The wilderness within
Saturday, 2.5.22 12—4 pm
2.5.22 - 2.26.22
Opening reception Saturday, 2.5.22 12—4 pm
Gallery hours Saturdays 12—4 pm and by appointment
Elephant is pleased to present The wilderness within, a solo site-specific installation by Jennifer Celio. In the unique exhibition area at elephant, Celio transforms the intimate room into an immersive version of a suburban house garage that displays mundane trappings as well as the bizarre and unexpected. The sculptural works and simple objects speak to entangled lines of inquiry into exotic animal trophy hunting, family ties and secrets, the potent influence of pop culture in childhood, and the pressing urgency of an environmental tipping point.
Celio pulls from her experiences at her grandparents’ suburban home, which was typical for a tract house in Southern California, both inside and out. There was one crucial distinction-the exotic animal heads that hung with a discarded air on the walls of the garage. Visits to their home often meant a trip into the garage for something, and what resulted was both repulsion and fascination to the mounted heads of a rhinoceros, a water buffalo, and an African gazelle collecting dust high up in the rafters. Inside their home, other bodily souvenirs were scattered throughout, including the bizarre sight of an elephant foot ashtray, the skin dry and cracked, the plain brass ashtray unused despite the fact that her grandfather smoked. Naively, she assumed he had hunted these animals a long time ago and they had become just another decoration in their home. Only when older did she find out, to her great surprise, that it was her grandmother who had gone on the African safaris with her previous husband, and she herself had shot and preserved those animal parts.
For The wilderness within, Celio has created mixed media sculptures, assemblage works, and collected vintage and personal ephemera to reference those majestic creatures reduced to a state of decay in the garage, intertwined with design influences from her 1980s upbringing, like a rattan peacock chair, macramé lampshades, and buttons and teeny bopper magazine pinups of pop music stars. The walls of elephant art space have been altered to resemble the dark, unfinished walls and the roll up door of a garage with Celio’s sculptures hanging from and leaning against them, and the open rafters and unfinished area above the gallery walls play into this illusion. The focal point of the “garage” is a peacock chair, situated on a rug made from a rejected painting covered in pencil drawings, alongside a replica elephant foot ashtray made from handmade paper, wood, and a vintage ashtray, in which sits nubs of Celio’s artist pencils painted to look like cigarettes.
In assemblage sculptures, mixed media paintings, and installation elements, she weaves disparate components and techniques into works that add to the illusion of a surreal garage. She repurposes objects within her art practice towards a personal goal of reducing resources consumption. The pieces include beach trash, scraps, salvaged items, and personal effects in order to minimize the use of new materials while playing with juxtapositions and conversations between these objects and more traditional art-making materials.
This installation explores the dual ideas of humanity’s complicated relationship with the natural world and the individual’s complex relationship with family. The messiness of memory lends to a collective forgetting of the human toll upon nature’s ecosystems, and on a micro scale, one can choose to ignore the problematic familial pasts lurking just below the surface. Setting the stage within a home garage-a place that can be a burying ground for unwanted possessions-symbolically layers these macro and micro relations in a surreal reimagining of a place and time that, for Celio, shaped an awareness of how crucial environment is.
Jennifer Celio’s work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at Cristinerose Gallery and Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts in New York City; Haphazard Gallery and the Creative Artists’ Agency in Los Angeles, CA; La Estacion Gallery in Chihuahua, Mexico; romo gallery in Atlanta, GA; Bandini Art in Culver City, CA; California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA; Moorpark College in Moorpark, CA; and Phantom Galleries in Long Beach, CA. Her drawings represented the Southern California region in the 2015 biennial at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her work has also been in group exhibits in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Houston; and Berlin, London, Mexico, Colombia, Greece, Istanbul, and Canada; and in other museum exhibits in San Francisco, Long Beach, Laguna Beach, and Indianapolis, IN. She is the recipient of individual artist grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2012) and The City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowship (2014.) She has received residencies from Yaddo (N.Y.), Soulangh Cultural Center (Taiwan), and the Long Beach Museum of Art (CA.) She has a B.F.A. from Cal State Fullerton (1996.)
Her interdisciplinary artwork has received critical review in such publications as The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Art Papers, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Art Ltd. Magazine, Artillery Magazine, Juxtapoz Magazine, Fabrik Magazine, Beautiful/Decay, The Huffington Post, Flavorpill, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
NOTE: Masks are required inside the gallery. If you are vaccinated, you may remove your mask in the backyard reception area. Thank you!