Today we’d like to introduce you to Luciana Abait.
Luciana, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I can’t specify the moment when I decided to become an artist. Ever since I was a child, I was always drawing, painting, making crafts with recycled materials (even before the word “recycled” was related to environmental issues!). When I was in high school, I had an amazing art teacher, who took my class to see museum exhibitions. The way she explained the meaning of the artworks, showing me the hidden layers of information and conceptual thoughts, made me connect to the artwork in a completely new manner. It was a defining moment in my life when I knew that my life would always be associated with the arts. Later on, I attended the studios of renowned Argentinean artists, Atilio Laguzzi and Ladislao Kelity where I learned painting and drawing. Later on, I studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes “Prilidiano Pueyrredon”, which back then was the Fine Arts University in Buenos Aires.
In 1997, I moved to Miami and became a resident artist of ArtCenter South Florida. At the end of the ’90s, Miami was starting to emerge as the city that we all know now. Back then, everything was possible, there were endless opportunities for artists. There was an incredible need for artists to exhibit their work, to commission work from, to interview for media outlets. I can say that I was in the right place at the right time. The artists that I met at the ArtCenter, curators, and collectors were extremely generous with me and were instrumental in my insertion in the artistic community. During the eight years that I lived in Miami, my professional career flourished and my works were shown nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions, art fairs and became part of important collections Art in Public Places.
In 2005, I relocated to Los Angeles. After two years of being here, I became a resident artist of 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. It was amazing to have a studio again and become part of an artistic community. 18th Street has given me the physical and mental space that I needed to develop and challenge my art practice. I received the 2016 Santa Monica Individual Artist Fellowship. Some of the most important projects that I have been part of since I have lived in Los Angeles are: “Sur Biennial” at Rio Hondo College, curated by Robert Miller, Ronald Rafael Lopez and James MacDevitt, “Nest” at Lehigh University Art Galleries in Bethlehem, PA, my solo exhibitions “Aquarium”, “A Mid Morning Garden Dream”, “Water Cities: Los Angeles” at Los Angeles International Airport, “Power” at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks and “Geographies of the Invisible Line” at Building Bridges Art Exchange, curated by Marisa Caichiolo.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My work intends to create the sensation in viewers of witnessing a new visual nature through the creation of photo-based manipulated landscapes, installations and photo-sculptures. The main elements of my work are water (in its different forms), vegetation, the animal world, humans and urban environments.
These elements are presented establishing new relationships with one another in a poetic and surreal manner. These connections bring about issues of adaptation, assimilation, displacement and also question the significance of individuals in relation to the masses.
During this last year, my practice has focused on the development of “Iceberg Series”, mixed media works on paper and the creation of the monumental on-site installation “Off the Map”, developed during my residency at Building Bridges Art Exchange, Santa Monica in the summer of 2018. Both explore complex layers of urgent climate change matters and the human displacement caused as a result of these environmental catastrophes. In “Iceberg Series”, the placement of minute construction elements within the vast masses of ice makes a reflection on the aggressive intrusion of men into nature, even in the most remote places on earth. The installation “Off the Map”, presents monumental icebergs or mountains, made out of paper maps showing all the continents of the world and particularly maps of countries that are going through the most suffering due to climate change and natural disasters, terrorism, political persecution, dictatorship, wars, etc. This immersive installation intends to capture a part of the universal sense of displacement felt by people who, no matter what the circumstances, leave their hometown, their roots and their sense of belonging. It wants to express the feeling of being anonymous, of feeling lost, of having nowhere to belong to, the need to find a new place in the world to settle down. The huge sculptural paper mountains are hard to crawl. They are a metaphor for the struggle that the displaced, who are “off the map”, have to go through in order to achieve a sense of belonging, a piece of land, a home. They also make a reference to the tightening of the borders. The maps of the world are presented in this installation mixed up randomly, without any order, with the intention of making a comment on the current state of the world. Logic and common sense, in so many cases, has been lost and we, as citizens of the world, feel as lost directionless spectators of these messed- up maps without a clear path in sight. The shape of these mountains/icebergs is directly related to my “Iceberg Series” and it also comments on the displacement of humans due to climate change.
My work’s goal is to extend a strong environmental message through visually powerful art pieces that attract viewers, producing mystery and wonder in them. The artworks invite the public to get close, observe, establish a dialogue, insight, and self-introspection. They aim at creating awareness with the hope of producing concrete actions in our society that can alleviate the disastrous consequences of climate change and human displacement.
Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?
The art world has never been easy. I am not sure if I could say things nowadays are harder than in the past. I believe there are lots of changes, many due to technological advancements that are forcing many artists and the art business to change and/or evolve. The new technologies are giving artists new tools to envision and create incredible works but at the same time, they are enabling any person who is not an artist to produce artwork which, although it may not be of good quality, may pass as art in certain circles. There are many art galleries that are closing so this means that there are fewer opportunities for artists to exhibit and sell their work. Actually, very recently, HILDE gallery in Los Angeles closed and in a very open statement they posted: “Art going and buying is changing. Galleries in the traditional sense are dying and something new is about to be born.” The institution of “art” is going through a silent revolution that is shaking everyone, including the big guys. Technology is a massive disruptor and in many ways an equalizer.
As Predicted by Andy Warhol, physical space is becoming obsolete”…
I totally agree with this, artists will have to be flexible, foresee the changes and adapt to what’s to come.
There are many things cities can do to help artists:
There are so many empty buildings, stores, and malls (closing due to online sales). I wish there was a system in place to give artists more chances to create temporary projects in them, activating these abandoned spaces and integrating the communities.
Studio space is another big issue. Rising rents and gentrification are threatening spaces that incubate talent. I wish cities would facilitate artist studios, fund them, work with private landlords to turn vacant properties and industrial sites into temporary or permanent artists’ studios so that artists could focus on the creation of their artwork instead of trying to figure out how to pay their studio rent.
I think more alternative exhibition spaces are needed in cities so that artists who do not have strong gallery representation and lack of museum connections can still exhibit their work in well-respected institutional spaces. Again, the general public would benefit so much from this!
I wish cities would create more individual artist fellowship opportunities so as to allow more artists to fund their projects and expand their practice. They could give more grants especially destined for the purchase of art supplies and/or studio rent.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My studio is located at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. It can be visited by appointment.
Some of my works from “Iceberg Series” are currently being shown at Building Bridges Art Exchange in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica.
Visit: www.curatorlove.com where my works are shown and are part of curatorial projects.
In Chicago, my works can be seen at Jean Albano Gallery.
I have two upcoming projects for 2019:
A solo exhibition of “Icebergs” at Los Angeles International Airport.
I will present a new installation “Coffin” as part of “Window Dressing Series”, curated by James MacDevitt, at Cerritos College Art Gallery in February 2019.
- Address: 18th Street Arts Center
1653 18th Street. Studio #6
- Website: www.lucianaabait.com
- Phone: 305-962-6223
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: lucianaabait
- Facebook: Luciana Abait