Kyla Hansen + Krystal Ramirez: This is the Place, This Must be the Place
March 27 - April 17, 2020
The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art presents This is the Place, This Must be the Place, a collaboration between two artists who use text-based works to explore controversial ideas around migration, voice, access, and gender. Kyla Hansen and Krystal Ramirez establish a dialogue of shifted and distorted words, moving back and forth between narrative and abstraction as they find occasional common ground through a word or a repeated phrase. By introducing instability to written language, they create a space where they can talk about instabilities that exist in some of the other areas we like to think of as solid and fixed.
They take their title from a statement attributed to the Mormon leader Brigham Young (1801 - 1877), who is reputed to have said, “This is the place,” as he was looking out over the landscape that is now Salt Lake City. By referring to a historical migration they hope to prompt us to consider the changing nature of settlement and movement in the United States. How does a person’s background affect their ability to establish a claim over language and land? How has that claim become different over time?
Both artists have been affected by migration. Ramirez is a first-generation American whose awareness of the hardships her parents endured has guided her to a practice that finds value in repetitive effort and handcraft. Hansen is a native rural Nevadan now living in Los Angeles where she creates sculptures and textiles that focus on the overlapping myths and realities of the American West. Aware that her movement from a rural environment to an urban one is part of a wider global population shift, she uses her artwork as a lens to think critically about this development and its multiple implications.
As women, both artists feel the reality of art history as a male-dominated space they have decided to enter. Their work acknowledges that history and moves it into the present. Ramirez typically uses minimalist patterning as a conscious reference to the past, but for This is the Place she has also decided to draw on some of the ideas that motivated the Color Field artists of the 1950s and ‘60s. Hansen’s long tableau makes material references to earlier assemblage tableaus while comparing the soft, patchwork nature of her quilted patterns to the hard surfaces of geometric abstract painting. Their handmade aesthetics not only uphold the importance of intimate domestic labor, they also underline the effort we make to occupy space through our words. How do we create a claim to space through our language? How are our words understood?