Los Angeles-based artist Kelly Berg’s work explores natural phenomena and landscape through painting and mixed media, expressing a world that is simultaneously futuristic and primordial. Berg’s work captures the movement of tectonic plates and the growth of geological formations, and serve as metaphors for the ever-changing nature and impermanence of our world.
For her residency at BoxoPROJECTS in 2021, Kelly built on her “Pyramid Rift” series by literally bringing the pyramids off the canvas and placing them in the ruptured landscape of Joshua Tree. She produced photographic works and used the experience of physically manifesting her iconic imagery to make new paintings in an iterative process. The resulting exhibition featured photography, painting and the pyramid sculptures.
For Boxo10x10, Kelly is bringing back some of the inspirational photo works as well as a painting that was completed after her time in Joshua Tree. The paintings from her residency were recently featured in an exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica.
Kelly Berg received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, where she focused on drawing, painting, and mixed media within the Illustration Department. Berg’s work has been featured in exhibitions at local, national and international venues including Craig Krull Gallery (Santa Monica, CA), Melissa Morgan Fine Art (Palm Desert, CA), The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA), The Lancaster Museum of Art and History (Lancaster, CA), The Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery at Cal State LA (Los Angeles, CA), The Manhattan Beach Art Center (Manhattan Beach, CA), The Pete and Susan Barrett Gallery at Santa Monica College (Santa Monica, CA), Mana Contemporary (Miami, FL / Jersey City, NJ), The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at University of Nevada (Las Vegas, NV), The Donkey Mill Art Center (Holualoa, HI), Steps Gallery (Yokohama, Japan), and the Art 1307 Cultural Institution at the Villa di Donato (Naples, Italy). In April of 2019, Berg was an artist-in-residence at Art 1307 Cultural Institution in Naples, Italy and created a painting inspired by Mount Vesuvius Volcano which was in view from the studio.
Artist website: www.kellyberg.net
In his project titled Queering the Landscape, LA-based artist Ben Cuevas worked from the viewpoint of his genderqueer, Latinx identity, to depict the striking forms and textures of the Joshua Tree landscape using his signature medium of knitting. Utilizing a stitch called “faggotted fringe”, his work reclaims the depiction of the land from the historically hetero-male-dominated practice of landscape painting. The artist incorporates the visual language of macrame, a vernacular present in the California desert and throughout many Latinx cultures and a folk art style often seen as “other”. Existing on the fringes, like queer folk, people of color, indigenous people and the desert itself, these artworks claim “other” as a way of viewing the world and queering the practice of representing place.
For Boxo10x10, Ben is bringing back the largest of the pieces he made along with the handy trash bag dispenser he knitted to provide people with the means to keep the landscape tiday.
Ben Cuevas is a Los Angeles based artist working in textiles, sculpture, installation, photography, video, sound, and performance. His practice underscores queer/feminist ideologies, with a focus on the condition of embodiment. As a genderqueer, male-bodied, HIV Positive, Latinx artist, his identity directly influences his work, which is often autobiographical. Born in Riverside, California in 1987, Cuevas received a Bachelor of Arts in Mixed Media Installation Art from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA (2010). Following his graduation, at an artist’s residency at the Wassaic Project in New York State, he knitted his masterwork to date-a complete human skeleton. Since then he has created several bodies of work, exhibited widely, and used his art as activism to raise awareness around issues of HIV/AIDS.
Megan’s work is a personal journey of decolonisation through an investigation of how she can take responsibility for her settler colonial ancestry. By placing herself in the frame, she acts out the absurdity and violence of privilege; the colonial gaze; and the invasion/decimation of land, languages and cultures for which the coloniser is responsible.
Megan aims to prompt questions rather than answers. Questions about how to unpack whiteness, colonisation and cultural prejudices, in the belief that until we reconcile with our colonial past we will be unable to learn from the depth of indigenous knowledges that may save us all.
For Boxo10x10, Megan is providing work from two residencies at Boxo, one in May, 2013 and one in January, 2020. Passing is a video work begun in Joshua Tree and finished in the countryside around Megan’s childhood home in Australia. The score is by another Boxo resident, Biddy Connor (February 2014). The two photographic works presented were made during Megan’s second residency and continue the theme of “stranger in the desert”, the absurd imagery of a colonial attempt to tame the landscape.
Megan Evans is an interdisciplinary artist, working in video, photography, sculpture, and installation. Megan’s work is informed by social issues, examining the nature of belonging and the impact of colonisation on identity, both self and nation. Megan began her creative life doing large political murals in the 1980’s during which time she met, and later married, Aboriginal artist and activist the late Les Griggs which informed her perspective on colonisation. Her practice ultimately involves a mix of conceptual issues and aesthetic concerns.
Her career has spanned several decades and practices. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally, been published widely in books and journals and been awarded international residencies. Recent major exhibitions include SQUATTERS AND SAVAGES with Peter Waples-Crowe, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Benalla Art Gallery and Blak Dot Gallery; PARLOUR, Art Gallery of Ballarat and THE OBSERVANCE OF OBJECTS at the Ballarat International FOTO Biennale.
Artist website: meganevansartist.com
pwatamowin ohchi pakone kisik (a dream from the hole in the sky)
pwatamowin ohchi pakone kisik (a dream from the hole in the sky) began when I started to actively learn nêhiyawêwin (the Cree language) in 2016. Over the past five years, through the guidance of fluent nêhiyawêwin speakers in Victoria and in Wabasca, Alberta, where my nêhiyaw (Cree) ancestors are from, I have been learning about our language and the teachings embedded within our stories. While spending time with a respected Elder and knowledge-keeper from Wabasca named John Bigstone in 2018, I learned how the nêhiyawêwin syllabics (language symbol system) are derived from the stars, and is referred to as the “star chart”. I subsequently began to research the relationship between our language, the syllabics system, and the star constellations visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
Concurrent to my language-learning journey, I began to reclaim the ancestral art of beadwork. I have decided to combine these two practices, language-learning and beading, to create works that embody these knowledges and speak to the ideas of reclaiming culture, language and stories. I decided to work with large pieces of black cow hide and silver beads, to create the outlines of constellation systems that are significant to nêhiyawak (Cree people). I chose matte black beads for the syllabics that accompany each constellation for their names to illustrate how these knowledges can be obscured and interrupted by settler-colonialism. As they blend into the background of the hide, it requires the viewer to look closely to determine what it represents, and to consider how knowledges are transferred, both within families and communities, and across generations.
In 2019 I was offered a residency at Boxo PROJECTS, which led me to travel to Joshua Tree, California to spend the first two weeks of October beginning to work on the pwatamowin ohchi pakone kisik project. I spent my time conducting research, beading, and most importantly, seeing the night skies and constellations in a “dark sky” area. I was able to spend my days working and my evenings observing the stars in a similar way as my ancestors, unimpeded by light pollution.
I have recently been working on creating larger scale sculptural interpretations of the beads in ceramics and will be bringing these to Joshua Tree. The beads will be half-buried in the desert landscape, marking the constellations that I have been learning about, essentially taking the designs from the hides and placing them directly on the land. This land-based installation is an extension of the project, and speaks to the nature of how our languages, cultures, and epistemologies come from the land.
Eli Hirtle is a nêhiyaw(Cree)/British/German filmmaker, beadworker, youth mentor and curator based on Lekwungen Territory in Victoria, BC, Canada. His practice involves making films about Indigenous cultural resurgence and language revitalization, as well as investigating his nêhiyaw identity through beadwork. Current areas of interest are learning how to speak his ancestral language of nêhiyawêwin and mentoring emerging Indigenous artists.
Eli is currently the Indigenous Curator at Open Space Arts Society. Past curatorial projects include “Constellations of Kin” for the ImagineNATIVE film festival, “Sacred” at Victoria City Hall, Pretty Good Not Bad Festival, IndigeVision Film Showcase, and the Wapakoni Cinema on Wheels Tour.
Heather L. Johnson
Heather L. Johnson is best known for long distance gift-giving motorcycle rides, solo travels made in the spirit of exchange, where gifts of art were made and given to strangers in return for their knowledge, shared experiences, and kindness. This concept began in 2013 with her residency at BoxoPROJECTS, for which she rode across the United States and back, leaving gifts at specific points in the landscape for others to encounter and keep, afterward making a body of artworks which reflected the experiences she collected during the trip. It evolved into a seven-year, multi-journey project called “In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful”, through which gave away 47 hand-stitched artworks to people in 14 countries, traveling as far south as Buenos Aires.
Now living in Houston, Texas, Heather’s current work brings together a broad range of media and materials to reflect upon climate change and the mechanical systems we build that are responsible for it. As an avid motorcyclist, she is fascinated with the complex emotional relationships we so often have with what we build, and the ways in which machines reflect the inner workings of our own frail human bodies. Having recently spent time in such divergent places as Houston, northeastern Spain, and Grand Canyon National Park, she takes inspiration from systems designed to manage water and energy resources, and the degrees of ingenuity, dedication and outright hubris required to envision, design, build and maintain them. Though these places grapple with very different environmental concerns, all are plagued with problems stemming from overdevelopment and/or overuse.
For Boxo 10×10, Heather will create an indoor installation composed of layers of different media that refer to violent weather systems, resilient actors in nature, and the power and water lines that are built into the same structure in which it will be displayed. Graphite drawings will be overlain with hand and machine-stitched works on fabric, paper, and vellum. Re-imagined wiring diagrams will spill off the paper and meander into rarely noticed elements of the space, drawing one’s eye from wall to corner to ceiling and beyond. Her objective is to draw attention to critical infrastructural elements that enable our comfort and safety, while paying homage to the tenacity of trees – silent aging sentinels that bear witness to our actions over unfathomable stretches of passing time.
Small, limited edition mixed media works will be available for purchase alongside items Johnson has made through her repurposed wearable art venture, “Artificial Heart”. For A.H., she re-assembles, embroiders, and upcycles bags and clothing out of articles destined for landfills. Each piece is embedded with machine-stitched references to similar landscape, weather and mechanical infrastructural elements that are found in her non-commercial artwork. Handmade from found materials, Artificial Heart objects are affordable, wearable, unique works of art.
More information can be found on Heather L. Johnson’s art practices at https://www.heatherljohnson.com/.
William Lamson is an interdisciplinary artist whose diverse practice involves working with elemental forces to create durational performative actions. Set in landscapes as varied as New York’s East River and Chile’s Atacama Desert, his projects reveal the invisible systems and forces at play within these sites. In all of his projects, Lamson’s work represents a performative gesture, a collaboration with forces outside of his control to explore systems of knowledge and belief.
For Boxo10x10, Will presents photographic works made during his residency in 2013 that have not been seen in Joshua Tree before. During his time at Boxo, Will made simple gestures in the landscape using a set of materials (mylar sheeting, mylar strips, silver tape and lengths of 2″ x1″ lumber), shot images and was guided by what he found. He used a variety of locations including the land around Boxo, land adjacent to A-Z and the boulders at Garth’s Boulder Gardens. Between setups, Will worked hard devising new concepts and framing up various props to support the materials in new ways. The final setup was involved 100 ft roll of mylar set on a frame and held taught with an improvised winching mechanism on the Coyote (Dry) Lake.
William Lamson’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe, including the Brooklyn Musuem, The Moscow Biennial, P.S.1. MOMA, Kunsthalle Erfurt, the Musuem of Contemporary Art, Denver, and Honor Fraser Gallery in Los Angeles. In addition he has produced site specific installations for the Indianapolis Musuem of Art, the Center For Land Use Interpretation, and Storm King Art Center. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Musuem of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and a number of private collections. He has been awarded grants from the Shifting Foundation, the Experimental Television Center, and a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. His work has appeared in ArtForum, Frieze, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, Harpers, and the Village Voice. William Lamson was born Arlington, Virginia and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his MFA from Bard College, and he teaches in the Parsons MFA photography program and at the School of Visual Arts.
Caroline Partamian and Ethan Primason
As two artists with backgrounds in Music and Anthropology, Caroline Partamian and Ethan Primason work to explore the dimensionality of audio through the relationship between sound and space. Specifically, they are curious about the psychoacoustic properties and placeness of sound. Through their work, the artists explore concepts of architecture, transmission, acoustics, and ethnography through a creative and technological approach to audio.
For Boxo10x10, Partamian and Primason have designed a performance using the architecture and history of the Integratron to further explore the relationship between the space’s function as both an idealistic spiritual totem and highly functional acoustic space. Using architectural plans and drawings from Van Tassel’s “Proceedings of the College of Universal Wisdom” Partamian and Primason have constructed a series of sound sculptures and instruments to bring these two realities together in a series of short performances at the Integratron itself.
Caroline Partamian is a sound and visual artist influenced by her training in dance. She works closely with the concept of abreaction – the extraction of dormant memory stored within a muscle, resurfaced through physical movement, of which an individual was previously unaware. By focusing on the process rather than anticipated result, her work encourages what can be revealed when one becomes conscious of their kinetic movement in the process of creation. She has shown work at ISSUE Project Room, Art Quarter Budapest, Wassaic Project, Otion Front, Flux Factory, Anthology Film Archives, Marfa Open, Babycastles, Compound Yucca Valley, and more.
Artist Website: www.carolinepartamian.com
Ethan Primason is a sculptor and sound artist. His work has been shown at Pioneer Works, Sargent’s Daughters, Marinaro Gallery, Zaha Hadid 520 W 28th street, Outpost Artist Resources, Wassaic Project, Clocktower Radio, Marfa Open, and WGXC Wavefarm.
Artist website: www.sonictransmissionarchive.com
Ana Sánchez-Colberg worked with 11 Latin women living in the Morongo Basin, exploring their stories through voice, film and movement. The project, titled 1[-1] Materiality of Exile, explored migratory histories in the Southwest desert, with a focus on the Latinx community whose identity is marked by migrations and “crossing” through the desert. The crossing (whether literal or metaphoric) is one from “inhospitable” conditions towards more “hospitable” ones. The project invited participation from the women to celebrate the activities of their work through which they transform the “inhospitable” to “hospitable.” The performance developed the idea of “crossings” in three interrelated strands: a live-dance event outdoors, an outdoor installation, and an indoor video installation presented for Boxo10x10. This video serves as an archive where the public can engage with the processes out of which the piece emerged.
Ana Sánchez-Colberg is a Puerto Rican choreographer, currently working in Europe and the USA. Over thirty years, she has produced dance and performance work in more than 40 cities, with a particular focus on collaborative practices. Her work is an open invitation to participate in rethinking the public nature of the museum space and consider ways in which the art form is held between the artist (who opens the space) and the audience (invited to inhabit and transform it). Previous works include The Sky Leans on Me, (me the one horizontal amongst all the verticals) as part of the Benaki Museum, Athens Out/topias Exhibition; J[us]t 5 in collaboration with CHEAPART.GR evolved between 2017-2018 across various contexts including biannual Art-Athena International Arts Fair and Return to Athens Festival; J[us]t 5 REDUX an immersive participatory installation was presented within the Athens International Festival in June 2018 which interwove the collected narratives of the artist as she traveled through various cities. Most recently the project Seven to the Seventh was an unprecedented global project that connected artists and their communities synchronistically across seven time zones (see www.seventotheseventh.com)
1[-1] was partially funded by The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Artist website: https://materialityofexile.blogspot.com
In 2016 an invitation to BoxoProject’s residency program opened a new path for Jim Toia and his art practice. The result has been a six year journey which has given rise to an avenue of work centered around one concern, the stability of the desert environment.
Toia‘s Joshua Tree focus is on biological desert crust known scientifically as cryptobiotic soil, the combination of five living organisms working in concert to help stabilize the surface of the desert floor. This thin and delicate crust is made up of microscopic moss, lichen, mushroom mycelium, algae and the desert soil itself.
The opportunity allowed Toia to continue his decades long studio practice of examining structures and processes in nature that we don’t normally have the opportunity to observe, and finding a way to capture and present them to the public for consideration.
This endeavor has led Toia to his most recent series, Cryptohomogenized.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, when he was sequestered in Joshua Tree due to the sudden shut down, Toia has been molding forms from desert boulders and sheathing these hollow forms with magnified images of desert crust. The images, captured with an electron microscope, are printed on mulberry paper. The resulting sculptures are enigmatic, both declaring and deny their form simultaneously. A photographic image sits on a three-dimensional structure. The structure appears to be a rock yet in its final form it is hollow and lightweight, consisting entirely of organic materials. It causes the viewer pause. “What is that?”
For Boxo10x10, Toia is returning to the Mojave Desert to engage a boulder large enough that numerous individuals could enter for shelter if necessary; a simple enough metaphor for the land providing safety. This notion stands in contrast to man’s usual interaction with the desert landscape, which generally manifests itself as uninformed and destructive. With the infusion of more and more people into the desert region, biological desert crust is being compromised continuously, not only destabilizing the desert ecosystem, but also releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, the exact opposite of what is needed to help us bring our earth back into balance. This sculptural form, accompanied by informative signage, bring light and knowledge to the observer, helping us negotiate the desert environment with a gentler touch.
Jim Toia makes work around the world when possible, but his primary and secondary studios are in Northewestern New Jersey and Key West, Florida, respectfully. He sought the hills and valleys of NJ as both refuge from the metropolitan area and for its proximity to the center of the contemporary art world. In Key West he spends time peering into the straights of Florida searching out life below. He is represented by the Kim Foster Gallery in Chelsea, NY (kimfostergallery.com). He received his BA from Bard College and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and the Far East. The many collections that own his work include the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ, The NJ State Museum, the AT&T Collection, and the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Hunterdon Museum of Art and Stamford University to name a few. He is the recipient of a 2000 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Geraldine Dodge Foundation Grant.
Gosia Wlodarczak undertakes performative artwork that grapples with capturing the essence of the now; of being present within space, time and language. Her drawings record the predicament of existence as a membrane of imagery drawn from the objects, landscape, people and texts she encounters. These drawings are executed on a variety of surfaces, in a variety of contexts both public and private. Her frost drawings, executed on glass, create a dynamic archive that continues to interact with the shifting worlds on either side of the pane. FROST DRAWING FOR JOSHUA TREE (2012), is strikingly visible on the windows of the BoxoPROJECTS site. This was the first project at BoxoPROJECTS in Joshua Tree and remains an enduting symbol of the residency program
For Boxo10x10, Gosia also presents The Situations, works on canvas made in different situations at a variety of sites around the Joshua Tree area. Like the frost drawings, The Situations capture the essence of what took place at a point in space and time over a set time period without judgement, comment or embellishment.
Gosia returned to BoxoPROJECTS on the fifth anniversary of the inaugural residency for which she created tunics that she drew on, in addition to creating a large work on canvas.
Gosia Wlodarczak was born in Poland (1959) and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts with Distinction from Poznan Academy of Fine Arts, Poland (1984). She arrived in Australia in 1996, lives in Melbourne and works in Australia and internationally.
Since her arrival in Australia she has been awarded numerous prizes and grants including: Australia Council New Work Grant for Established Artists (2020, 2013 and 2006); Australia Council Skills and Development Grant (2008); Edith Cowan University Public Art Project (2007); Ministry for Culture & the Arts Western Australia, New Project Grant (2004).
Wlodarczak has held over 71 solo exhibitions and 63 performances in Australia and internationally and she has participated in many group exhibitions. Her work is represented in numerous collections including that of the National Gallery of Australia and her work is published in numerous book and publications.