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September 15-October 20, 2023

For its inaugural exhibition, COL Gallery is pleased to present, Becoming, featuring works by Corydon Cowansage, Louise Fishman, Nancy Graves, Marcia Hafif, Jess Xiaoyi Han, Minako Iwamura, Kiwha Lee, Emma McMillan, Masako Miki, and Georgina Reskala from September 15th through October 20th.  


Becoming is inspired by those who have fluctuated between states of being, who have been told who they are, tried to clarify, failed, and tried again, who witness and record the world around them and claim space through their medium of choice. 


None of the pieces in the show are explicitly narrative, but they function as self-portraits of their makers. Louise Fishman, Nancy Graves, and Marcia Hafif were actively creating work in the 1970s when the death knell for painting was sounded and it was proclaimed dead. It was a time of re-assessment and re-evaluation of what painting could be and a reaction to the pure abstraction, clean lines, and anonymity of Minimalism. Ignoring the trends of the time, these artists powerfully employed a strong abstract language that simultaneously blended their personal interests and political experiences. They tenaciously continued to methodically create work in a manner that was as conceptual as it was intimate, paving the way for younger generations of abstractionists to make work that is wholly their own. 


Similarly, the other artists in the show do not simply depict things of the world—the works are their inner worlds, their lives, themselves. For her recent series, States of Being, Minako Iwamura employs a vessel form that vacillates between the body and abstraction, prompting the viewer to think about all that is contained within each of us and all that remains to be explored. Meanwhile, Kiwha Lee reinvents ancient Asian printmaking techniques through oil paint that are beautiful explorations of cultural hybridity, having lived across multiple continents. Masako Miki explores the notion of identity through her creation of large-scale, semi-abstract sculptures inspired by shape-shifting spirits from Japanese mythology. Miki delves into the psychological aspects of how one processes new environments and cultures based on her own experience of moving to the United States from Japan. Emma McMillan also grapples with the influence of new environments. McMillan’s moody nocturnes were the output of her residency in Paris where her paintings assumed the language of the city in various shades of blue.


The disembodied forms of Corydon Cowansage allude to touching lips, leaves, tongues, splitting cells, waves, flowers. These abstractions are painted with a strong sense of light and shadow providing a physical space for her uncanny explorations of her inner and outer worlds. Jess Xiaoyi Han is known for her meditative, lyrical paintings inspired by her daily life; the small orb featured in each piece is reflective of her various psychological states, lending the works a diaristic quality. Instead of using paint to document time, Georgina Reskala turns to photography. Through photographing and re-photographing her landscapes, folding and creasing the prints between each exposure in the darkroom, Raskala’s images become nearly unrecognizable prompting the viewer to question the primacy of individual and collective memories. 


These artists do not translate the events of a given time; rather, their works are events unto themselves. The differences that come to light between these artists show an honest sensitivity to and understanding of the fact that vision is always multiple. These works serve as a reminder that there is no single or absolute perspective. They encourage and persuade us to slow down, open our eyes and really see–to see ourselves and the world around us, both the uniqueness of the individual experience as well as the commonalities we share. Lastly, these works catalog and serve as a reference for the nebulous intangibles that comprise a life well lived.

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