“Empty and Meaningless”: A Morgan Culture Installation at Inglewood Public Library
In March 2012, I had the opportunity for a solo exhibition at the Inglewood Public Library. Inglewood definitely still has a reputation as a “bad neighborhood” from all those rap songs of the ’90s, but it is in fact a burgeoning conceptual art community. The studios at Beacon Arts Center and 1019 Manchester are full of truly talented artists, most of whom are making work that far surpasses the commercial notions now being sold in Venice and Santa Monica.
The Inglewood Library is one of the few in the Los Angeles area that offers an exhibition space to artists. Each artist has the space for one month. The library is also next to an unexpected urban park that encompasses City Hall and other municipal buildings. It’s just feet from one of the few surviving WPA murals in the country. You can learn more about the fascinating history and restoration of the “History of Transportation” mural here.
When I walked in to the library and saw its exhibition space, I was confronted with the idea of trying to hang my work on a coarse beige pegboard surface. The artist who’d shown before me, a photographer, simply had his framed work hung by library-provided metal hooks in the pegboard. My work isn’t quite so accessibly hung.
Rather than attempting to conform my work to this totally unworkable aesthetic, I decided to simply cover up the pegboard and start with my own surface. I obviously had to leave parts of the pegboard that weren’t part of my exhibition space, but I covered most of the rest. And then I kept going. I had a velvet rope stanchion to work with, so I let the work fill the floor as well. I basically brought my studio to the library and unleashed it. Finished pieces, print roll-ups, ropes, pins, photos I tore and crumpled, old work, fabric yardage, screens, yarn, underpants… it’s all there.
I’ve never hung in a public space WITH the public in attendance during the hanging. I took 2 days to hang the show, and quite a few people stopped by and commented during that time. One elderly gentleman inquired, “What is this thing? It’s like when you cut out a bunch of pictures and put them together.”
“Yes, an installation,” I answered. “No,” he countered. “Like a bunch of photos out of a magazine.”
“Oh… you mean a collage?” “Yeah, that’s it.” He walked away.
Ten minutes later, he came back. “So what’s it about?”
“Well…” I hesitated. My artist’s statement was already hung- should I direct him to it, or was it too esoteric? “It’s like how the brain works- specifically the artist’s brain. You see all these flashes of things, ideas, colors, and sometimes you voice them and sometimes you don’t.”
“Yeah,” he nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, it’s a mess in our brains.”