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collaboration


Women’s Center for Creative Work

For the second year of the contemporary art initiative /five, The Huntington is partnering with the Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) to select seven artists who will create new works investigating the theme of collecting and collections. The seven artists will conduct research across the Huntington’s art, botanical, and library holdings, and then create artworks that respond to the collections and provide engaging, thoughtful, provocative, and inspiring experiences for Huntington audiences. The artworks could take any number of forms including site-specific installations, readings, events, podcasts, performance, or media-based works. The results of this collaboration will be announced throughout the year and will culminate in an exhibition in fall 2017.

 

Founded in 2013, WCCW is a Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization that cultivates feminist creative communities and practices through its facilities, residency programs, and rapidly growing network of over 15,000 followers.

projects


Jheanelle Garriques


In 2014, when she was still a student at USC, Jheanelle Garriques started her writing salon, Naked Narratives. She wanted to create a space for femme-identified people from a variety of backgrounds to explore their lived experiences through writing. She knew a fair amount about the history of female coteries, such as 18th-century women’s clubs, but until she began exploring The Huntington’s library collections, she did not know about Elizabeth Montagu, who started what was in many ways a feminist writing salon in London, circa 1760. The Huntington Library holds correspondence between Montagu and her female peers, which Garriques has been poring over. “I’m trying to draw a thread through the experiences of these female-identified people in 18th-century Britain and the femmes that I’m working with,” she says. Garriques has assembled a salon of women in their 20s and 30s to work with her at The Huntington. Together, they will develop an anthology of writing, and Garriques also plans to compose a chapbook, combining the writing of Naked Narratives participants with writings from Montagu’s salon participants. She wants to “breathe new life into the Montagu collection,” she says, while tracing deep connections between feminists of the past and present.

kerrie welsh


On February 23, 1900, actress Olga Nethersole was arrested at a theater in New York and charged with “giving indecent and immoral public exhibition.” She had been performing on stage as a modernized version of Sappho, the ancient Greek female writer known for her love poems, in an openly sexual manner. The scandal surrounding Nethersole’s performance intrigued kerrie welsh, an experimental filmmaker now working on her doctorate in Film and Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz. Famous as Sappho may be—“She’s really the only female figure that reaches the cultural saturation of someone like Homer,” welsh notes—little historical information about her life exists. But imagined versions of her story abound. Over 20 films about Sappho were made in the 1920s and 1930s, welsh points out, describing the poet as “a metaphor for historical memory.” During her residency at The Huntington, welsh will collect and study the hundreds of references made to Sappho in the Library’s archive. Sappho’s words and obscurity, however, will ultimately serve more as the inspiration than the subject of the collection of queer love stories that welsh will gather from other, less formal sources. Evidence of such love stories is often destroyed, whether by queer individuals or their loved ones, and then omitted from historical records. welsh will contact organizations, private individuals, and public figures, asking them to help her in her search for material—primarily first-person recollections—suited to her project. Come November, she will exhibit her newly made collection of love stories alongside archival material related to the ancient poet. “The language of love comes from Sappho,” says welsh. The love stories come from many others.

Soyoung Shin


French revolutionaries saved the thick, ornately hand-woven carpet called Astrology from Versailles after the execution of King Louis XVI. “It was such a nice rug,” says artist Soyoung Shin. “It would have been a pain to get rid of it.” Instead, post-Revolution craftspeople replaced the fleurs-de-lis—the stylized lilies used to symbolize dynastic power—with a garland of oranges. The rug, which has been on view at The Huntington since 1928, inspired Shin. She plans to make her own revisionist history tapestry during the WCCW residency, though hers will revise a different history: that of contemporary computing. Shin, who studied computer science as an undergraduate and incorporates technology and domestic craft into her artwork, points out that the punch card led to the pixel, and that, earlier, the Jacquard weaving process informed the invention of the punch card. All modern computing, despite the endemic sexism in the industry, thus stems from a craft now conventionally viewed as feminine. “I’m trying to put all that back together,” Shin says.

Juliana Wisdom


“It’s just kind of bursting at the seams with this opulence and femininity,” artist Juliana Wisdom says of historic, decorative porcelain. Her research in The Huntington’s art collections focuses on porcelain made in the French manufactory at Sèvres, France—the museum owns, among other objects, a delicate pink and floral lidded dish from 1757. Wisdom became interested in the women who worked on Sèvres porcelain. She kept finding bits of information hinting at the role women played. But mostly she found absences in the historical record, suggesting that the names and identities of female craftspeople had been omitted. “That really sparked the project of filling in the gaps,” she says. She expects her research to inform the work that she is making. She is working on three sculptures, one large and two smaller vessels, that will incorporate decorative elements from the Sèvres porcelain but also attempt to suggest, through their forms and the imagery they incorporate, a different story about women’s labor. “Studying how these objects were made and who made them can be a way to transform how we think about history,” she says.

Olivia Chumacero and Sarita Dougherty


Painter Sarita Dougherty usually works from life, so she has been bringing her oil paints to The Huntington’s gardens and observing the spring blooms. Her collaborator, Olivia Chumacero, has been bringing her camera, beginning her work on an abstract, surrealistic film. In the past, Dougherty and Chumacero have worked together to do research, performances, and installations honoring nature, and Chumacero founded the organization Everything is Medicine to teach people about traditional uses of native plants. The two artists are studying the native and uncultivated plants in The Huntington’s gardens as well as the cultivated collections, getting to know the flora while documenting it through painting and video. When they first started coming to the gardens, they found the Ceanothus—also known as California lilac—in full bloom. “They were huge and gorgeous, bursting all over,” says Dougherty, noting that native Californians have used the plant for generations to make soap, among other things. At The Huntington, it can be difficult to find truly uncultivated native plants; every plant here is in some way managed, even if just by being watered by a sprinkler. But the Ceanothus serves the ecosystem in observable ways, offering shade, serving as a habitat for animals, and providing pollen to many eager pollinators. For the first phase of their project, Dougherty and Chumacero did a case study—through painting and film—of this plant, trying to convey its relationship to its environment. They will return at the height of summer and fall to do subsequent case studies in painting and film of small groups of native plants, contrasting these with studies of flora in The Huntington’s more formal, cultivated gardens. They will also harvest seeds and use the native plants to the extent allowed, not just observing but building symbiotic relationships with the flora and inviting visitors to do the same during interactive workshops they plan to host in the fall.

 

Zya Levy

“I really view plants as storytellers,” says botanist Zya Levy, who co-founded the project We the Weeds in Philadelphia. She and her collaborator, Kate Pomerantz, would lead walking tours through the city, showing what plants and weeds in particular could say about the environment. Certain weeds become resistant to toxins, for instance, to survive in a city’s industrial areas. Researching at The Huntington is different, however, because, unlike urban weeds, most of the plants at The Huntington didn’t serendipitously take root in the gardens. As a result, they tell different kinds of stories. Levy has begun to study the Golden Barrel Cactus, of which The Huntington has many. The ball-shaped plant existed only in a volcanic valley in Mexico until a German collector, Heinrich Hidman, brought it back to Germany in the late 1800s, turning it into a collector’s item. Thanks to over-eager collectors and flooding caused by a dam project, the cactus became endangered in its native habitat but ubiquitous elsewhere. “You see it in front of gas stations in Los Angeles,” Levy observes. She is exploring how to tell the stories of such plants—whether through sketches, photographs, or audio collages—in ways that will convey the full effect they have on our wild and urban environments.

 

Jheanelle Garriques


In 2014, when she was still a student at USC, Jheanelle Garriques started her writing salon, Naked Narratives. She wanted to create a space for femme-identified people from a variety of backgrounds to explore their lived experiences through writing. She knew a fair amount about the history of female coteries, such as 18th-century women’s clubs, but until she began exploring The Huntington’s library collections, she did not know about Elizabeth Montagu, who started what was in many ways a feminist writing salon in London, circa 1760. The Huntington Library holds correspondence between Montagu and her female peers, which Garriques has been poring over. “I’m trying to draw a thread through the experiences of these female-identified people in 18th-century Britain and the femmes that I’m working with,” she says. Garriques has assembled a salon of women in their 20s and 30s to work with her at The Huntington. Together, they will develop an anthology of writing, and Garriques also plans to compose a chapbook, combining the writing of Naked Narratives participants with writings from Montagu’s salon participants. She wants to “breathe new life into the Montagu collection,” she says, while tracing deep connections between feminists of the past and present.

kerrie welsh


On February 23, 1900, actress Olga Nethersole was arrested at a theater in New York and charged with “giving indecent and immoral public exhibition.” She had been performing on stage as a modernized version of Sappho, the ancient Greek female writer known for her love poems, in an openly sexual manner. The scandal surrounding Nethersole’s performance intrigued kerrie welsh, an experimental filmmaker now working on her doctorate in Film and Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz. Famous as Sappho may be—“She’s really the only female figure that reaches the cultural saturation of someone like Homer,” welsh notes—little historical information about her life exists. But imagined versions of her story abound. Over 20 films about Sappho were made in the 1920s and 1930s, welsh points out, describing the poet as “a metaphor for historical memory.” During her residency at The Huntington, welsh will collect and study the hundreds of references made to Sappho in the Library’s archive. Sappho’s words and obscurity, however, will ultimately serve more as the inspiration than the subject of the collection of queer love stories that welsh will gather from other, less formal sources. Evidence of such love stories is often destroyed, whether by queer individuals or their loved ones, and then omitted from historical records. welsh will contact organizations, private individuals, and public figures, asking them to help her in her search for material—primarily first-person recollections—suited to her project. Come November, she will exhibit her newly made collection of love stories alongside archival material related to the ancient poet. “The language of love comes from Sappho,” says welsh. The love stories come from many others.

Soyoung Shin


French revolutionaries saved the thick, ornately hand-woven carpet called Astrology from Versailles after the execution of King Louis XVI. “It was such a nice rug,” says artist Soyoung Shin. “It would have been a pain to get rid of it.” Instead, post-Revolution craftspeople replaced the fleurs-de-lis—the stylized lilies used to symbolize dynastic power—with a garland of oranges. The rug, which has been on view at The Huntington since 1928, inspired Shin. She plans to make her own revisionist history tapestry during the WCCW residency, though hers will revise a different history: that of contemporary computing. Shin, who studied computer science as an undergraduate and incorporates technology and domestic craft into her artwork, points out that the punch card led to the pixel, and that, earlier, the Jacquard weaving process informed the invention of the punch card. All modern computing, despite the endemic sexism in the industry, thus stems from a craft now conventionally viewed as feminine. “I’m trying to put all that back together,” Shin says.

Juliana Wisdom


“It’s just kind of bursting at the seams with this opulence and femininity,” artist Juliana Wisdom says of historic, decorative porcelain. Her research in The Huntington’s art collections focuses on porcelain made in the French manufactory at Sèvres, France—the museum owns, among other objects, a delicate pink and floral lidded dish from 1757. Wisdom became interested in the women who worked on Sèvres porcelain. She kept finding bits of information hinting at the role women played. But mostly she found absences in the historical record, suggesting that the names and identities of female craftspeople had been omitted. “That really sparked the project of filling in the gaps,” she says. She expects her research to inform the work that she is making. She is working on three sculptures, one large and two smaller vessels, that will incorporate decorative elements from the Sèvres porcelain but also attempt to suggest, through their forms and the imagery they incorporate, a different story about women’s labor. “Studying how these objects were made and who made them can be a way to transform how we think about history,” she says.

Olivia Chumacero and Sarita Dougherty


Painter Sarita Dougherty usually works from life, so she has been bringing her oil paints to The Huntington’s gardens and observing the spring blooms. Her collaborator, Olivia Chumacero, has been bringing her camera, beginning her work on an abstract, surrealistic film. In the past, Dougherty and Chumacero have worked together to do research, performances, and installations honoring nature, and Chumacero founded the organization Everything is Medicine to teach people about traditional uses of native plants. The two artists are studying the native and uncultivated plants in The Huntington’s gardens as well as the cultivated collections, getting to know the flora while documenting it through painting and video. When they first started coming to the gardens, they found the Ceanothus—also known as California lilac—in full bloom. “They were huge and gorgeous, bursting all over,” says Dougherty, noting that native Californians have used the plant for generations to make soap, among other things. At The Huntington, it can be difficult to find truly uncultivated native plants; every plant here is in some way managed, even if just by being watered by a sprinkler. But the Ceanothus serves the ecosystem in observable ways, offering shade, serving as a habitat for animals, and providing pollen to many eager pollinators. For the first phase of their project, Dougherty and Chumacero did a case study—through painting and film—of this plant, trying to convey its relationship to its environment. They will return at the height of summer and fall to do subsequent case studies in painting and film of small groups of native plants, contrasting these with studies of flora in The Huntington’s more formal, cultivated gardens. They will also harvest seeds and use the native plants to the extent allowed, not just observing but building symbiotic relationships with the flora and inviting visitors to do the same during interactive workshops they plan to host in the fall.

 

Zya Levy

“I really view plants as storytellers,” says botanist Zya Levy, who co-founded the project We the Weeds in Philadelphia. She and her collaborator, Kate Pomerantz, would lead walking tours through the city, showing what plants and weeds in particular could say about the environment. Certain weeds become resistant to toxins, for instance, to survive in a city’s industrial areas. Researching at The Huntington is different, however, because, unlike urban weeds, most of the plants at The Huntington didn’t serendipitously take root in the gardens. As a result, they tell different kinds of stories. Levy has begun to study the Golden Barrel Cactus, of which The Huntington has many. The ball-shaped plant existed only in a volcanic valley in Mexico until a German collector, Heinrich Hidman, brought it back to Germany in the late 1800s, turning it into a collector’s item. Thanks to over-eager collectors and flooding caused by a dam project, the cactus became endangered in its native habitat but ubiquitous elsewhere. “You see it in front of gas stations in Los Angeles,” Levy observes. She is exploring how to tell the stories of such plants—whether through sketches, photographs, or audio collages—in ways that will convey the full effect they have on our wild and urban environments.

 

events



Exhibition: COLLECTION/S: WCCW/five at The Huntington
11.18.17–2.12.18

The exhibition “COLLECTION/s: WCCW/five at The Huntington,” on view in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art from Nov. 18, 2017 through Feb. 12, 2018, will feature an installation of paintings, sculpture, textiles, video, writings, and other new works along with performances, talks, and tours by the artists.

Exhibition: COLLECTION/S: WCCW/five at The Huntington
11.18.17–2.12.18

The exhibition “COLLECTION/s: WCCW/five at The Huntington,” on view in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art from Nov. 18, 2017 through Feb. 12, 2018, will feature an installation of paintings, sculpture, textiles, video, writings, and other new works along with performances, talks, and tours by the artists.

stories


BLOG | Engaging with the Collections

 
PHOTOS | #5atTheH

 
PRESS RELEASE | 2017

 
ANNOUNCEMENT | 2017

 
BLOG | Women Making Art

aboutsm_five


/five is a contemporary arts initiative centered on five year-long collaborations between The Huntington and a variety of arts and cultural organizations. The aim is to engage The Huntington’s rich library, garden, and art collections in new and thought-provoking ways. Possible outcomes include site-specific installations, educational programming, performance pieces, sound work, film, or myriad other art forms.

 

Each year’s collaboration will be announced toward the start of the calendar year. Information, photos, and stories about each collaboration and the associated artworks and events will be added to this site as they become available.

 

The /five initiative is made possible by a generous gift from The Cheng Family Foundation.

Additional funding for the second year of /five was provided by a grant from the Pasadena Art Alliance.