Full disclosure: Lucas Iberico Lozada, a junior at Yale University and a freelance writer, spent six weeks this summer working as an intern at SITE Santa Fe. Kianga Ellis is also a SITE summer intern.
If Kianga Ellis, a self-described "art evangelist," has a church, then it is not of this world.
In a matter of weeks, the mobile art gallery Kianga Ellis Productions descended on Santa Fe, organized a show and now aims to revolutionize the way this art town talks about art. On July 29, KEP opens its three-day, multi-platform Art Talks Weekend.
By using social media as tool, weapon and interface for hosting discussions about art, Ellis aims to transform the way people conceive of and produce it—a conversation she says isn't happening. Five of the 15 artists KEP represents will be in attendance for the discussions, and a few more will join via Skype.
Saturday's first talk, "Everything and Everyday," focuses on how artists respond to "followers" or "friends" by allowing them to gaze into the sepulchre and deconstruct the work as it is made in front of their eyes, in real time.
And where most in the art world would see a sacrilegious intrusion into the sacred tower of artistic isolation, Ellis sees an opportunity—not only to connect with and represent the artists who are using social media most effectively, but to get to the deeper questions that inform artistic creation. Hosting live art talks—and through broadcasting them through Twitter and other avenues—is a way for Ellis to make that conversation into something real and effective—something that reaches into the very heart of art itself.
Before committing herself full-time to artist representation and consulting, Ellis spent nearly a decade working on Wall Street. The financial meltdown, she says, "was kind of a welcome opportunity for me: It allowed me to focus back on my career in arts."
The 15 artists KEP represents were each chosen individually, she says, based on "a kind of sincerity and rigor of studio practice, and that he or she is making work from the gut and not the head."
They come from all backgrounds and work in several media—including "Pop Culture Pirate" video remix artist Elisa Kreisinger and Painta, a 23-year-old from Baltimore whose portraits on paper and hyperactive Twitter presence have won him a quick and fervent following.
As a unit, the artists' identities coalesce around the motif of "art with meaning"—art that asks difficult, serious questions. Katarina Wong's work in sumi ink on clayboard reveals hidden images of terror masked beneath friendly exteriors, yet their ephemeral nature recalls that of nightmare. The viewer is thus allowed some distance, while at the same time experiencing real fear.
Brian Dupont's "Broadsheet" displays an image seared into many of our brains—that of a 747 jet flying
into the World Trade Center—obscured with thick paint. A burst of raw orange paint creates start contrast against the front page of The New York Times.
It is Ellis' hope that, with Art Talks, Luddites, vanguardists, amateurs and experienced professionals alike will contribute to the conversation. She also hopes that, though the tweets may be lost in the digital ether, their influence will remain.
ART TALKS WEEKEND @ KIANGA ELLIS PROJECTS
Reception 5-7:30 pm Friday, July 29
Through July 31
High Desert Discovery District (HD3)
560 Montezuma Ave.
On Twitter: #KEP