The Art Basel Miami/Davis Satellite Show was held last week at 212 F Street in Davis, CA. The show ran simultaneously to the primary host in Miami Beach Florida, as a part of Art Basel. Art Basel is in its 11th year, however this was the first year a complimentary show was held in Davis. Twenty artist, both upcoming and established, participated in the event between December 6th through 9th. To be at this show was electric.
We arrived just in time for a libation, and a one-time through the gallery, before Allison’s piece began.
Captivating, profound, and indicative of the emotion of this time in her existence.
In the center of a gallery, a bathtub filled with clay slip (a pancake batter-like clay substance), bright light casting images down upon the tub from a sky light.
Smudged completely with chocolaty, dusty, powder, a woman in a once-white dress emerges from a doorway, looking deep into the eyes of everyone in the crowd.
Her message is mysterious, and ghostly, as she walked slowly into the crowd and stepped into the muddy tub.
Drums beating wildly but softly, we hear the word “Go”.
Legs, arms, and bust form this living art figure of poise, bathed in light, basking in a tub of mud, casting stares of direction to all those present.
“Go.” The intensely quiet presence speaks. The drums beat again quietly, madly.
“Go.” She made her way slowly, deliberately, out of the tub and to a white, blank, wall in the back corner of the gallery.
She takes off her dress and plasters it to its new place in existence.
Staring with eyes intense, but kind, she makes her marks on the wall and steps back through the door.
Applause erupts from the crowd as Allison reemerges from the doorway through which she has just ended her piece. The crowd is alive with the raw experience of it.
Enthralled in the moment that this experience has inspired, I find myself talking to a woman named Aram Han.
It turns out that Han, Allison and the show’s curator, Charlie Schneide, all studied together at The Art Institute of Chicago. In fact, Aram had been invited by Schnieder to fly out from Chicago for this show so she could perform the piece she was about to do.
Two performance pieces in one night!
Much of Aram’s work is about “invisible and unappreciated immigrant labor.”
This particular piece was inspired by the story of her mother, who was an artist in Korea, but since her arrival in the states, has been a seamstress in a dry cleaner’s to feed and support her family,
Aram’s performance was beautiful, captivating, expressive, and simplistic.
She elegantly enters the gallery wearing a brilliant white wedding dress and steps up on to a white podium. Illuminated in bright light, she bends down deeply, intently. With a needle and thread, she reaches into a bowl of rice and begins to sew the staple diet of many cultures into her dress, which is jeweled throughout with the grain.
The symbolism of rice is what she sows so powerfully into her dress.
Before her performance began, she told me about the mythological story of the Rice Mother or Rice Goddess, who sacrifices her life to save her family. Then, after her death, the first grains of rice grow from her body.
The piece was powerful, peaceful, and I swear she could have been one hundred feet tall.
Beautiful and elegant, seaming the seeds of a culture’s life though sacrifice into dreams.
The work and the worlds I witnessed were profound at this “Satellite Show” (the show’s title, which also featured excellent sculpture, painting, video art, and photography) and the dreams and meanings within the artist, as always, are just as powerful as the dreams and meanings that they provoke in the minds and lives of those who experience and view their work.
Sowing the seeds of existence into the world and the lives of all of us.
Thank you, Satellite Show, you rock!
For more information on the artist mentioned above visit