Placemats and seedpods


Living Patterns


Through June 30

The immigrant experience is rich fodder for art, and always has been. Indianapolis has seen a burgeoning of such art, from small-scale shows to the capstone of such exhibitions here in recent months: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’ phenomenal Everything is Separated by Water at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Smaller-scale efforts in the city explore the same territory: what it means to leave one’s native country and all the attendant joys and griefs related to such departures, voluntary or otherwise, as well as what it means to be a woman both in and out of this context.

On view at Flux, a dual show of Minneapolis artists Alonso Sierralta, who delves into his own experience as a Chilean now living in Minnesota, and his wife, Lisa Loudon (originally from Oklahoma), look through two unique lenses: Sierralta’s is that of an immigrant; Loudon’s is that of a woman exploring the feminine in the context of American culture.

Dubbed Living Patterns, the exhibition isn’t so much collaboration as it is a cohabitation of the two artists’ sensibilities. Sierralta’s sculptures, mostly in the form of installation, strike a more detached pose, although his work is rich with the tension of personal reflection. Loudon’s two-dimensional images are equally rich, but somehow more personally charged. Loudon rejects stereotypes — the woman as an icon of housework, say, or the container of men’s (and society’s) fantasies.

Flux has traditionally shown the work of local artists, those whose work is playful and yet aesthetically rigorous (Kipp Normand, Sigrid Zahner and Mark Richardson come to mind). By contrast, Living Patterns, particularly in the case of Sierralta, represents a departure in the sense of an almost urgent seriousness, and yet there’s a common thread of searching, or yearning to understand the human experience through artmaking.

Sierralta’s “Migration” employs Styrofoam, acrylic and twigs in service of pod forms resembling limbless porcupines; they crawl across the gallery in a plodding, inevitable march, destination unknown. Similarly, “Semillas” is a cluster of cedar and wax pods, sliced in half like nutshells with their meats removed. These form a tribe of sorts: a cluster of lost figures searching for home, lacking a center.

Loudon’s “Scenes from a blissful domestic life” is clearly ironic: silhouetted images of men and women in traditional roles — she pushes a vacuum cleaner or wields a spatula while he sports a suit and briefcase — both striking a caricatured pose. I couldn’t help but recall Kay Walker’s stereotyped African-Americans, shadow figures evocative of their subservient roles. Along these lines, Loudon’s “Exciting NEW patterns for today’s housewife” deploys placemats layered with silhouettes of women cleaning and posing, cut from identically patterned placemats suggestive, of course, of a meaningless blending in, a cultural camouflage.

Both artists invite the viewer into their personal space, anticipating that we will find common ground there. This, more often than not, is the case.

Living Patterns: Lisa Loudon and Alonso Sierralta is on view at Flux, 1046 Woodlawn Ave., in Fountain Square through June 30. Call 317-636-3243 or visit for more information. Hours: Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.


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