Los Angeles

Susan Cianciolo, Shabbat Shalom, 2021, mixed media, textiles, 58 1⁄2 × 50".

Susan Cianciolo, Shabbat Shalom, 2021, mixed media, textiles, 58 1⁄2 × 50".

Susan Cianciolo

Susan Cianciolo’s second solo show at Overduin & Co.—“Transmission of energy from celestial alignment with galactic center: Run 13 Collection”—was as sprawling, intricate, and multidimensional as its title indicated. Across three separate spaces, visitors encountered the artist’s new Run 13 clothing collection; a selection of “costumes” (as Cianciolo refers to them) from the archive of Run lines, which viewers could browse on rolling racks; a room hung with mixed-media-on-canvas works, mostly from 2020; several 2D and 3D tapestry pieces that were made last year; a mobile; a healing station; and a selection of the artist’s kits and games, displayed on tables. Every single object was a complex assemblage of myriad components and techniques. In Shabbat Shalom, 2021, for instance, an unstretched canvas tacked to the wall served as the ground for all kinds of formal eccentricity, including dyed and sewn scraps of unevenly cut fabric; cardboard rectangles adorned with doodles and attached to the fabric’s surface with black binder clips; minuscule bits of paper; a flat, safety-pinned origami bird, and painted sketches of two canaries in a tree alongside a pair of human figures wearing voluminous garments. Each piece here was generously packed with visual information made from repurposed castoffs.

Cianciolo gives value to neglected things, but not in an overly precious way. Rather, her approach to making art hinges on precarity, messiness, and entropy. The artist insists on living without “systems or structures,” as she explains in the prelude to her 2021 monograph-cum-cookbook published on the occasion of her show “PRAYER ROOM, HEALING STAtion,” which was staged at the Portland, Oregon, gallery Lumber Room last summer. (“This is my journey and all I’m doing is following my heart,” she goes on to say in the text.) Cianciolo’s detritus is diaristic—a record of all the humdrum objects that move through our hands (and usually into the trash) on a day-to-day basis. In a garment from the Run 13 collection, a deflated gleaming helium balloon and a classic plastic bag, emblazoned with the phrase THANK YOU HAVE A NICE DAY, were attached to the placket of an inside-out denim shirt. In another piece, an empty sack of Friskies Surfin’ & Turfin’ Favorites cat food doubled as a handbag. Little notes and bits of paper were tucked, tacked, or tied onto various pieces throughout the exhibition. One such epistolary scrap, penned by Lilac, the artist’s daughter and frequent collaborator, gently spun in the sculpture Mobiles That Don’t Have Many Things!, 2021, and read I LOVE YOU MAMA. HERE IS A GIFT FOR YOU, YOU CAN YESU IT FOR YOUR WROK.

Cianciolo conceptualizes her practice as a method of emotional and spiritual repair. “Healing is in the making,” she writes in the conclusion of the Lumber Room catalogue. In an essay from the same volume, artist and musician Ross Simonini explains that Cianciolo “refers to her process of making art as a way of ‘being with angels.’” The heavenly and the earthbound, sublimity and trash, the precious and the prosaic: Cianciolo’s work is full of such heartening paradoxes.