From Syracuse to San Pedro:

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Studio 347 exhibits Syracuse University MFA students

By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

In a modest San Pedro neighborhood overlooking the Port of Los Angeles sits a small house with a sizable ambition. Each semester Syracuse University in New York chooses three students from the masters in fine arts program to come to California, reside in the Turner House, and participate in an intensive study program.

On Dec. 2 Michael Stearns’ Studio 347 opens SU: LA New Beings, an exhibition by Syracuse University MFA candidates Hollie Lyko, Mika Mollenkopf and Preston Van Allen.

SULA: New Beings showcases the diverse experimentation and breadth of practice within the Turner Semester Residency.  Pushing aside traditional representations, SULA: New Beings expresses the body across several binaries: human/machine, real/imagined, exterior/interior.  Working with computer technology, performance and video, mixed media assemblage and bookmaking, the works in this exhibition offer perspectives to a timeless subject.

In Syracuse the students had already established a working relationship, even though their practices are diverse.

Van Allen has been a ceramicist since childhood. He was born and raised in Towanda, Pennsylvania — a small town 20 minutes from the New York state border. A very early influence was ceramicist Jack Troy Teacher, who had a studio in upstate Pennsylvania. His studio practice intersects ceramics, technology, and innovation.

Working with ceramic 3D printing technology, he has designed and built a completely mechanically driven printer.  This exhibition will feature his new machine, which he refers to as bricoleur — referring to a construction of diverse available material. Following a debilitating surgery Van Allen found himself unable to use the potter’s wheel.

“I have a connection with both clay and 3D modeling,” acknowledged Van Allen. “But I didn’t know how to match the two until I started working with my professor on building and designing this printer that actually prints clay.”

The current bricoleur is the sixth generation of his prototype. Live demonstrations of the ceramic printing process will take place at both the opening reception on Dec. 2 and the December First Thursday art walk Dec. 7.  Operating the printer via computer, Van Allen’s practice blurs the boundaries between artist, maker, and object.

Lyko and Mollenkopf have differing practices, but they worked to create a performance called Beings of Light.

Mollenkopf’s social practice investigates and dissects relationships and the emotional connections and feelings formed within them, while Lyko’s practice typically revolves around the kitsch and the boundaries and aesthetics associated with low and high culture.

“I’m really interested in how humor operates in art as a language” commented Lyko. “It is a universal language that is avoided in the art world.”

What better than to take their combined interests to the boardwalk at Venice Beach? Dressed all in white as their alter-egos, The Beings of Light. Combining science fiction with superstition they visited the boardwalk on Friday the 13th. The women carried a transparent bag containing 1,000 custom fortune cookies filled with superstitions from around the world. Greeting passersby with holiday cheer, they offered them the opportunity to choose their fortune. The objective was to push social boundaries within the public sphere, and playfully engage with strangers. The two women created video documentation of their Friday the 13th Beings of Light performance at Venice Beach, which will show in the gallery during the exhibition.

The Turner House is a fully credentialed program funded by Chuck Klaus and Marylyn Ginsburg and supervised by Syracuse Professor of Painting, Kevin Larmon who serves as the faculty of record for the off-site program. Larmon has been offered permanent residence in San Pedro and we expect to see much more from the students rotating through each semester. Lyko, Mollenkopf and Van Allen will be returning to Syracuse mid-December. The exhibition at Studio 347 runs through Dec. 12.

Time:  4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 2
Cost: Free
Details: michaelstearnsstudio.com
Venue: Michael Stearns Studio 347, 347 W. 7th St., San Pedro