Eva Perez has created a profoundly beautiful show about a hot-button topic: fertility. The end result of six years of work, the 50 pieces that fill the Neutra Gallery in Fertile Infertility through February 12th exude wonder and loss, and give birth to an intimate self-portrait of the artist.
Her mixed media works give viewers a look at an unusually personal and taboo subject with delicacy, grace, and hard-won wisdom.
The show, Perez says, is “informed by images of my own blastocyst embryos, photographed while undergoing fertility treatments.” The intrinsic beauty of the images afforded Perez the realization that “this work in spite of such personal content, needed to be shared to a larger audience.” She says that “Because art can only ask questions, my goal is to establish conversations with both women and men about issues that are relevant to the times we live in.”
Fertile Infertility does so with wit and grace; creating abstract and representational art that arrests the eye and inspires the spirit. While she was not able to establish a positive pregnancy, she did indeed establish that “in spite of my biological limitations as a creator of life, I am still a creator of ideas.”
Perez works here as a sculptor, a painter, and a video artist. “Throughout my career I’ve explored multiple mediums. I love the plasticity of clay and the application of wax over canvas, but one of my favorite mediums is working with ink. Every single one of these mediums has been successful according to the piece and its intention,” she says, adding that she “will always be open to explore new mediums.”
Her deeply moving video installation, “Do You Have Kids?” is told in dialog, taking on the shockingly personal question that seems to crop up in virtually any social interaction. Both humorous and painful, the film is all about getting pregnant – or not getting pregnant. Why the question is allowed but the subject considered unpalatable is one of the most poignant elements of the show, which deals with Perez’ own attempt to have a child, fertility and age, and what became for the artist an “obsession with biology.”
A large number of works, whether 2-D or 3-D, are sculptural, such as “Silver Lining,” a rich, voluptuous and textured work created with aluminum leaf. The shiny silver that creates a jagged line down the center of the piece is like an electric shock – it defines the context of the work, which features a repeated pattern of multiple human eggs. Perez describes the work as a “part of the journey. There is always something beyond the suffering of the moment,” she relates. “Frozen Eggs 2″ turns to gold leaf over acrylic paint on paper. With this piece, and the others in the “Frozen Eggs” series, the artist offers a whimsical prize, a golden egg, a stand-in for a fertile egg, a roulette wheel for the gestation of life.
Working in wax and resin, Perez’s “Petri Dish” series and her “Eggs with Babies” series both feature glowingly alien attempts to create a new life. “Material literally informs a piece for me,” Perez explains. “I’m a sculptor and I love these materials. I was working in a different way with resin.”
Working simply with ink on paper, the artist’s “Ovum #4″ resembles a mandala of sorts, hypnotic and kaleidoscopic.
From plastic babies to cloth eggs, the works on exhibit are otherworldly and magical. Perez has created a mysterious and fascinating journey of gestation as if it were a universe frequently observed but rarely explored.
According to Perez, “This project proposes to function as a vehicle for dialogue with viewers and among viewers…expanding awareness of the complexities surrounding this topic, which even in this day and age is still considered a taboo.” The artist feels that the most salient and important aspect of her work is the conversation generated by it.
Certainly at last Saturday’s opening, Perez’ work created a buzz as to its beauty and its topic.
Guests listened to live musical performances and noshed on ceviche and chips, but the art itself provoked a thoughtful contemplation. What we create, what we bear is our legacy, whether it is great art or the beauty of a newborn child.
Perez got started as an artist from an early age, when she was exposed to drawing, painting, dance, and music. “Ever since I can remember I have always been engaged in the art making process. My mom encouraged us to be creative and use our imagination. As I was growing up, I studied ballet.” With movement and flow such a strong element of Fertile Infertility, Perez’ dance background makes perfect sense.
Later, she studied sculpture with Mexican artist Francisco de Leon. She became de Leon’s apprentice, and studied at The National School of Painting, Sculpting and Printmaking of The Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City.
From her early work until now, the artist’s work has changed dramatically, she attests. “I was trained as a sculptor, my work used to be mainly three-dimensional figurative abstract sculptures. As I grew in my practice, I’ve learned that art does not have to be linear but materials follow the form and function in support of ideas.”
Perez’ current works incorporate all previous aspects of her art from drawing, sculpture, and painting, and both the figurative and abstract approaches. “My latest artwork is not bound by past uses of materials but it’s taking a multi-disciplinary approach in support of one cohesive and central idea.”
Explore Perez’ unique world and provocative vision at The Neutra Gallery through February 12th. An artist’s talk will be presented at 5 p.m. The Neutra is located at 2379 Glendale Blvd. in Silver Lake.
- Genie Davis; All Photos: Jack Burke