Photo Feature: Lynn Aldrich and Sabina Ott, “Material Girls” at Bedford Gallery

by admin on May 26, 2017

Throughout the history of art, there are many instances of artists whose material work is so seemingly disparate, but who are nonetheless inextricably intertwined with shared histories and interests — one famous example is the convoluted relationship between Thomas Hart Benton and his one-time protege, Jackson Pollock. Bedford Gallery’s current exhibition, Material Girls includes colorful, playful, and fantastical artworks by Los Angeles-based artist Lynn Aldrich and Chicago-based artist Sabina Ott. While these artists share similar experiences and beliefs surrounding their art-making, their approach, process, and materials widely vary. The exhibit becomes an intriguing exploration into the variety of ideas and concepts surrounding an artist’s creative process: how their backgrounds and past inform their work, and from that, the personal journeys from concept to finished product.

While the gallery is certainly filled with two markedly different styles of artworks, Sabina Ott and Lynn Aldrich aren’t at first glance completely different people. It’s made known that both artists began to study painting in an academic setting and then shifted to sculpture. Additionally, Ott was also once Aldrich’s mentor at Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Ott and Aldrich also came to the Bay Area, or Northern California largely for their formal instruction in studio art. They also currently share interests in exhibiting work that reflect upon and be a kind of response to social and global politics and issues, but those issues in which they are interested vary widely as well. While both artists share collective interests and histories, their approach and process as the exhibit will unveil is vastly different.

The disparity between the two exhibiting artists, and their unique directions from concept to creation, begin to come to the surface of the works as the exhibition unfolds throughout the gallery. From the start each artist’s suite of work will take the term ‘sculpture’ into widely opposing sides of the possible range. Aldrich’s sculptures are more akin to assemblages of unique, large installations compiled from recognizable, common, everyday materials and objects: from textile samples to gutter downspouts, and placed in a delightfully surprising or imaginatively unconventional environment. Ott’s sculptures, however are predominantly founded in dense, white Styrofoam material scored and fashioned into large, organic shapes. Into this material Ott may insert various colors or found objects like clocks, cloth, and mirrors embedded into the surface –but it feels as if the object is of less consequence than in Aldrich’s works. Ott’s sculptures are not always three-dimensional; they may hang on a wall or from the ceiling, or rest upon a shelf. This title seems to be an apt one, that not all material is immaterial. Material Girls illustrates that, while certain interests, backgrounds, and histories may be shared, each artist’s practice will remain as unique as the artist themselves.

“Material Girls” is on view at Bedford Gallery in the Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek through June 4, 2017.