CSUN Art Gallery showcases assemblage art made of recycled material

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Artist Esteban Bojorquez’s “Alien Skull” is on display at CSUN’s art gallery in the exhibition “Outside” featuring Esteban Bojorquez and Kai Bob Cheng till Dec. 11. Photo courtesy of CSUN Art Gallery

Assemblage art has made its way to the CSUN art gallery this fall semester in the exhibit “Outside.”

“Outside” has been up since Oct. 23, and it features assemblage artists Esteban Bojorquez and Kai Bob Cheng. To work in assemblage means the artist takes recycled products that are normally thrown away and instead incorporates the materials into their art.

“This is certainly one of our most dependent exhibitions that we’ve had in the gallery, and this is because you get such a wide variety of people who enjoy it,” said Jim Sweeters who serves as the curator for the exhibit.

Sweeters expressed interest in both artists and knew their work would mix well together. It took a few weeks to organize the exhibit, and while Bojorquez assembled his own pieces, Sweeters was in charge of displaying Cheng’s work.

Sweeters choose to arrange the pieces specifically in different rooms, hoping to provide the observer with a different experience while walking through each room.

Although the artists both work in assemblage, they use different materials, which provide distinctive results. Bojorquez often works with car parts, corks, and license plates. Cheng, however, uses materials such as recycled sails taken from boats and silverwear.

“The main difference between the two artists is that Kai Bob’s work is more formalized and structured, where as Bojorquez’s work is more spontaneous,” said Jodi Bonnassi, an art assistant in the gallery.

Bojorquez’s work is created with a vibrant color palette with reoccurring images of clowns and skulls in his pieces. These images reflect an amusement park funhouse quality. His work commands attention because of its large size, which is most recognized in his piece Shelter Shock.

“People are attracted to Shelter Shock because of its scale,” Bojorquez said. “They don’t expect something that is so in your face, and the whole aspect of exploring the piece and finding a way to look inside arises curiosity.”

Bojorquez actually lived in pieces that were assembled in a shack for a period of eight years. Since his residency, he has added items such as corks, soda cans and license plates, which make up the piece today. The walls of Shelter Shock have 13 peep holes that were carved out and scattered amongst the piece. These holes allow for an observer to look inside the shack at different perspectives.

Shelter Shock took roughly 600 hours to complete, and was previously displayed in the Laguna Beach Museum of Art. Bojorquez said he really treasures the pieces he took the most time on, like Shelter Shock, he also enjoys the simplicity of many of his other pieces. One in particular, Alien Skull, was created with just two elements.

Cheng’s work requires the observer to become more intimate with his pieces.

“In order to really reckon with Kai Bob’s work you need to let it marinate with you and spend some time with it,” said Lexi Courtis, president of the Art History Association.

Within many of Cheng’s pieces, lies a smaller world that requires a second look in further detail. His work is much smaller in size than Bojorquez and has delicate quality with his use of soft pastel colors.

“The assemblage and the way the artists use their materials, resonates with people, and allows for people to wrap their heads around it in their own way,” Courtis said.

Courtis said the assemblage art in “Outside” has created a ripple effect within the art department and other clubs at CSUN. The art by Bojorquez and Cheng has inspired directors in the art departments to assign projects that reflect assemblage, she added.

The exhibit will close Dec. 11, when it closes the art will be taken back by each artist.

“Creating space for your work is an art itself,” Bojorquez said.“I think with the way the world is right now, it is a good time to pursue creative things whether it is in visual art or writing. I think right now the world is just craving it; we need another renaissance.”