I have to be honest – when I heard that Nicole Anderson was showing at Junior High, I literally thought the exhibition space was at a Junior High.
Increasingly cynical over the last several months, I was not thrilled to be going to a Middle School to see Anderson’s work. I’m happy to report that the art space is only called ‘Junior High’ (and situated in close proximity to a Junior High). I’m happier to announce that Nicole’s show was the most intimate and honest art exhibition I’ve been to in a long time.
Anderson sent an artist’s statement to me which gave me a greater understanding of her work. While normally artist’s statements explain the artwork to me, Anderson’s artist’s statement supplemented the work (which still isn’t overly obvious or plattitudinal). She collaborates with herself in both past and present, and she emphasizes ownership, belonging, and transience in location and mentality.
Anderson’s work focuses on transition, space, individual journey, and she has the best use of artist’s plaques I’ve ever seen. While most artists rely on the traditional binder of work titles to explain the artwork, Anderson brings the content to the viewer in the plaques adjacent to the work.
She’s relatable but not pretentious, self-aware but not self-indulgent, clever but humble, and I’ve never met her but I’m able to intuit this all from her artwork. Anderson successfully bridges herself as an artist into the work, which I think is particularly difficult to do without prior fame, family lineage, previous press, or “pedigree”, as Anderson would assert.
Anderson’s content resonates with me on a personal level. In a transitionary period of my life, I’ve recently reflected on space and the inhabitance of spaces in my own life. While Anderson is chronicling her own inhabited spaces, she gives us enough leeway to map our own lives onto her work. I felt as though Anderson was trying to get us to take stock of a larger life journey, but still wants us to focus on leaps, or ‘chapters’, if you will. Anderson’s focus isn’t on the minutia of daily life, but of encompassing swatches in our own lives.
There’s a thread through Nicole’s work that brings together her work as relevant to much of LA’s population, but relates to LA itself. I’m thinking of her series of photography featuring tents in various locations – which range from the farfetched and metaphorical to all-too realistic.
At first glance, Anderson’s exhibition looks disjointed (since all of her artwork can –and does- stand alone). However, it becomes apparent that Anderson has a strong voice and direction in her collection.
Anderson is clever in her work, but honest and relatable without being self-indulgent or arrogant. I would love to see Anderson have a solo exhibition with a large budget. Altogether this is a brilliant exhibition that is well-deserving of both the Junior High space – and I would urge, a larger, better-recognized venue.
Artist: Nicole Anderson
Gallery: Junior High
Run: May 11-June 10, 2018
Location: 5656 Hollywood Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90028