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L.A. art makes debut in
Harris Gallery
Posted Sept. 18, 2008
Steven Bier
Artist Kelly Sears enjoys a conversation with Christopher Russell, an artist and writer from Los Angeles, at her reception in the Harris Art Gallery Sept. 9. Sears’ exhibition, “the stories behind the images that had almost been forgotten,” will remain in the Harris Art Gallery until Oct. 3.

The University of La Verne Harris Art Gallery opened the Kelly Sears solo exhibition, “the stories behind the images that had almost been forgotten” with a reception Sept. 9, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Kelly Sears is an award-winning animator and filmmaker in Los Angeles. She earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of California, San Diego and a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College in Massachusetts.

“Sears is absolutely great,” said John Knuth, director of the Circus Gallery in Los Angeles.

The exhibition consists of collages on the walls from what Sears describes as “vintage periodicals” and a series of short videos that play continuously. The videos contain many of the collages that hang on the walls.

The collages are do-it-yourself ephemeral archives, which present old media artifacts from the 1960s and 1970s.

“I love the vintage background on the pictures. They look very ‘60s,” sophomore Summer Nasmyth said.

Sears intended for the collages to reveal secret histories that have been forgotten. Presented with that thematic image are Robert Kennedy and the first man who traveled into space. These and other historical images are brought together with images of pop culture to create each collage.

“Sears’ work proves that animation doesn’t always have to be childlike and can sometimes be very serious and historical,” said Christopher Russell, Los Angeles artist and writer.

The gallery is divided in half with a thick black curtain in order to separate the collages and the videos. On one side of the black curtain are two benches for viewers to sit and watch the videos.

Three videos titled, “Angels Chant like Witches,” “He Hates to Be Second” and “The Drift” played continuously throughout the opening night. Each video focuses on a theme relating to the time period that the media artifacts are from.

“‘The Drift’ is my favorite video,” Sears said. The video features swaying palm trees and a large diamond displayed as a moon. It also shows a collage made from an image of the dancing Rockettes.

The “He Hates to Be Second” video featured a collage of Robert Kennedy pompously sitting on top of a mountain of tigers. Sears described the theme of this video as a presentation of “alpha male aggressive tendencies.”

Many of the collage images were taken from periodicals such as Life magazine and National Geographic.

“Her work just presents the different mindsets and problems of the time,” Russell said.

Several themes presented within Sears’ work display the change from technological advances and expansion. Sears said she believes that certain artifacts from the past used as pop culture can often reveal historical secrets that people tend to overlook.

Sears’ work has been featured in the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions with “Against the Grain” and previously was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the San Francisco International Animation Festival, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, the Cambridge Film Festival in England and the After Dark Film Festival in Toronto, Canada.

Her work has also been displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Sears’ exhibit will be up in the Harris Art Gallery until Oct. 3. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free for students and the general public.

Jaclyn Mittman can be reached at jaclyn.mittman@laverne.edu.

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