Artist: May Ta (pictured) and Carly Lake (not pictured)
Media: Mixed Media, Paint, Illustration, Sculpture
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Dennis W. Dutzi Gallery
Website: May’s: (in progress) Carly’s: carlylake.com
About the Artist
This week at the galleries, I got to meet the incredibly talented May Ta. I visited her Closer exhibition, which she partnered with Carly Lake to create. Carly was not at the gallery while our class was visiting, but I got to chat with May and learn a little bit more about her, her partnership with Carly, and their exhibition that they produced together. May is a senior here at CSULB where she is pursuing her BFA degree in the School of Art’s Illustration Program after having transferred from Fullerton. The main reason for the transfer was because of CSULB’s strong Art Department. May moved to Fullerton from Vietnam in order to pursue some type of career in art. Her family back home, however, stopped supporting her because they hoped that she would pursue a career in engineering. May discussed how that was a bit of a struggle, but she ultimately overcame that by staying true to herself and doing what she loves, which is art and storytelling. Like May, Carly is also completing her BFA degree in Illustration at CSULB, and she is also minoring in American Indian Studies. They began working on their exhibition together in May 2016, and finished everything during the summer.
At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by how many elements there were in this exhibition. There were pieces of art on all four walls of the gallery, as well as personal items, such as a chair and easel, in the center of the room and a mattress in the back. There was so much to look at, so I knew I wanted to take my time and really analyze everything. May revealed that her favorite piece that she had done herself was “The Windows” (pictured below). Produced this year in 2016, May used an ink jet printer and picture frames that looked like tiny windows. Viewers got to peak into each “window” hung on the back wall, which each tied into the overall story May was trying to tell.
One of Carly’s favorite pieces in the Closer exhibition that she had produced herself was “Clonal Realm” (pictured below). Also produced in 2016, Carly used plywood, clay, acrylic, and thread to create this piece. With tiny, colorfully painted finger-like sculptures, a colorful board, and intertwined thread, this piece stood out because it was the only one in the exhibition that was hanging from the ceiling.
May described this exhibition as a “place of contemplation”. After chatting with her a little bit more about “The Windows” piece, she said it was created to portray “human privacy and intimacy”. The windows were used here as an analogy in a way because, in order to understand certain things about someone, we must look through their windows and see them in a more vulnerable state. May said that she really wanted people to relate to this because, sometimes in these intimate places, we can feel very alone behind those windows. I feel like she portrayed these ideas very well because, as we can see through some of these windows, the people or objects inside appear to be very isolated. May discussed how the room was set up to portray someone’s living quarters. That’s when everything started to make sense to me. From the windows to the entry door, from the mattress to the chair and the shoes, I truly understood the embodiment of letting someone into your private, intimate space.
Synthesis / My Experience
In a small room filled with artistic elements from wall to wall, both Carly and May were able to portray isolation, emptiness and intimacy in numerous ways. As someone who deals with these issues from time to time, I felt those emotions immediately after examining the mattress in the back of the room. Personally, this untitled piece was one of my favorite elements in the entire exhibition because, if you look close enough and actually read that blanket made of hand-written letters, you really feel like you are stepping into someone’s personal space. This is an act that some people, such as myself, are hesitant to do themselves or even let others do. The symbolism of the mattress and the blanket really got me thinking that we can lay our heads down to go to sleep and still have all of these fears of letting people inside our heads and our personal lives. I personally, carry these worries with me all the time, but they usually pop into my head when I am about to go to sleep and when I am at my most vulnerable.
Carly and May’s Closer exhibition allowed us to step inside somebody’s most intimate and private space in order to feel what it is like to be a stranger in somebody’s personal life. I truly respect and appreciate the way they were able to depict these emotions.