This solo exhibition took place from March 19-23, 2023 at the Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery in the School of Art Gallery Complex at California State University, Long Beach. I completed it as a part of my University Honors Program (UHP) Thesis in association with the CSULB School of Art Sculpture Program. Bryan Crockett, a professor in the Sculpture program, was my faculty advisor.
I displayed a range of my geometric paper sculptures alongside a stacked wall of 56 cement breeze blocks as a meditation on geometric abstraction and to demonstrate my creative process as it migrates from paper to more substantial materials.
Although architectural concrete screen blocks, or “breeze blocks,” (see FIG. 1 and FIG. 2) are all around us in the warmer climes of the southern half of the United States, few people who see breeze blocks know what they are called or even give them a second thought. Closely aligned with midcentury modernism, they first came to prominence in the ‘50s and ‘60s and began falling out of favor in the ‘70s. Although some consider breeze blocks to be kitschy, garish, hopelessly outdated, or a combination of the three; I really appreciate what they can achieve decoratively when each block is integrated into a unified whole.
My breeze blocks use light, materiality, and geometric abstraction to respond to the mild weather of Southern California and create novel sensory experiences in a way similar to the sculptural installations of the southern California Light and Space artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Acquiring inspiration from the book Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern (2018) by Ron & Barbara Marshall, I took the typical midcentury breeze block a step further by adding a raised relief to the face of each block and deviating from the standard square dimension. This relief element has influences that go further back in time than midcentury modernism, specifically to the textile block structures built by Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles and Pasadena in the 1920s (see FIG. 3).
Relief is very important in all the sculptural work that I do, regardless of my chosen media. Before the project, I had been experimenting with paper geometric relief sculptures, drafting and assembling the designs entirely by hand. These paper abstractions helped me to define the direction I wanted to take with the geometries of the breeze blocks. In crafting the paper sculptures, getting the paper to do exactly what I wanted it to do became an obsession. Bristol Study #4A and #4B make subtle use of perpendicular strips of yellow paper to create a soft yellow glow on the matte white surface of the Bristol paper. Overall, this exhibition is a celebration of the possibilities of relief, architecture, and light.
Exhibition sponsored by Professor Bryan Crockett, Sculpture Program