Upside Down L.A.

Upside Down L.A.

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$3,500.00
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Carolynn Haydu

22 x 30 inches

Hand painted paper collage on wood panel

2022

I'm exploring a body of work that has visual language in California topography. My brother I grew up in Los Angeles and have lived in California our entire lives. He worked as an archeologist for CalTrans until his death this summer of liver cancer. Before he died we discussed a new body of work based on his topographical maps of the central coast.

I'm using the visual language of mapping to explore ideas of survival and displacement: themes at the forefront of California life. Specifically, I am thinking of the changing socio-economics of Bay Area communities. As an East Bay resident since 1997, I've witnessed seismic shifts in Bay Area communities. Close to home and more personally, I was evicted from my painting studio in West Oakland this summer . It's no secret that West Oakland is being gentrified and developed at lightning speed. In 2021, American Steel Studios, an artist community with roots reaching back 30 years was informed of the sale of the complex of buildings which housed hundreds of artist studios. The new owners are a corporate real estate firm by the name of SKB. They evicted all artists by the end of August 2022 to make way for corporate development. My specific studio is slated to become an office for a tech company and a micro brewery.

As I lament the loss of my studio of 11 years and the community of artists at American Steel Studios, I am reminded that artists are have been considered the first wave of gentrification. I am also reminded of my privileged position when I see the countless unhoused people in West Oakland. They are a stark contrast to the Teslas, new condos and climbing gyms popping up all around the neighborhood. What I am most interested in this body of work is exploring the question: Who has access to California land? This inquiry is at the heart of my practice, both personally and professionally.  

The Cloak of Future Choice is an adaptation of an installation entitled The Cloak of Night. I created the original piece in response to my eviction. I originally envisioned a larger than life "cloak of protection" that could envelope the artist and protect the creative process. It was an attempt to create my own talisman, or magic object. I adapted this piece to include forms inspired by California topography as well as cloud patterns, wood grain and stone. My creative process is guided by this rhythm of breaking and reforming. I create paintings on paper, then take them apart. What most intrigues me is the resurrection of a painting: works formed by layering, something new rising where something old was destroyed. The end result mimics grounding patterns in nature such as granite and wood grain that reflect the stability of passing time.