In Comfort of Chaos

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How do we find order amidst crumbling governments, relationships, and identities? How can the turbulence, anxiety and unrest of todays world pave way for a new sense of clarity and vision? This exhibition seeks works that explores ways in which artists makes sense of time, space, and society when everything around them seems to be falling apart or shifting.

About the Juror:

Hanako O’Leary was born and raised by her Japanese mother and American father. She grew up roaming the suburbs of Chicago. Every year, for 2 months during the summer holiday, her mother would take her and her siblings back to their ancestral home in Hiroshima, Japan. These summers were spent learning how to cook, clean, and honor her ancestors from her four aunts, Nagako, Nobuko, Atsuko, and Masako. Hanako attended this annual pilgrimage until the year she turned 18 and these summer months would deeply influence her spiritual beliefs, artistic voice, and feminine ideals.

Spending most of her life on American soil, but always under a Japanese matriarchy, Hanako learned to bridge these identities through art, employing traditional Japanese imagery to narrate her current American story.

Hanako has received an extensive arts education within institutional walls and beyond. She exists through her hands. Currently, she is building her ceramic series, Izanami, at Pottery North West in Seattle, WA. where she is a long term resident artist.

Featured Artists:

Laura Ahola-Young

Laurie Berenhaus

Lisa Berkman

Nancy Bocek

Shannon Bodrogi

J. Borusky

Dante Brebner

Jessica Cheng

Natalia Bosques Chico

Cheryl Chudyk

Jo Cosme

Anna Daedalus

E. Valentine DeWald II

Jan Dove

Tiffani Erdmanczyk

Juliet Fiss

Jeanette Jones

Rohena Alam Khan

Tara Kraft

Moon Lee

Jiemei Lin

Anna Macrea

Jessica Mercy

Kelly June Mitchell

Naoko Morisawa

Heather Ormsbee

Clare Parry

Hannah Salia

Stephanie Silva

Diane Staub

Opening Reception: April 8 from 6-8 pm

Exhibition Dates: March 23 – May 21, 2022

Gallery Hours: Wednesdays – Fridays 12 pm – 6 pm, Saturdays 12 pm – 4 pm

Read a interview with our exhibition juror, Hanako O’Leary, below:

Ellen McGivern:
Thanks so much for meeting with me today. Can you introduce yourself in your own words and your connection to Kirkland Art Center?

Hanako O’Leary:
My name is Hanako Leary. I’m an artist who works mainly with ceramics clay but I also incorporate a lot of other craft-based materials such as paper and textile. I also paint. I am connected to Kirkland this time around as a juror for this year’s called In Comfort of Chaos. But I’ve had connections to the gallery previously as an exhibiting artist.

What was your process and actualizing the theme and In Comfort of Chaos?

I think In Comfort of Chaos was kind of the zoomed-out theme of a bunch of smaller themes that I suggested that focus around, basically change, changing relationships, in identity in your surrounding environments. I was really interested in how people come to terms with the shock of things very suddenly shifting in their everyday world. When I first suggested smaller themes to J., it was recommended that we try to do something broader because it allows for a wider breadth of submissions.
I think that was what summer of 2020 was when the word Chaos was being tossed arounda lot in different ways. Like just everything from the news, used very seriously to you know, jokingly in friend circles and then on memes on the internet. It was just like a word that kept popping up around me.

I was thinking about how it came to the point where everything in our lives is so chaotic that we’re used to it – it’s not even shocking anymore. II guess there was a certain level of comfort or normalcy that was starting to kind of pair up with this insane chaos, tragedies, and upheaval that was happening around us.

Thanks for that. So now that we’ve kind of talked about the theme, tell me about the selection processes. We had almost 100 applicants ranging from 2D, to sculpture, to video,, how were you able to find connections with such a range of entries?

So first, I based it mostly on the image submissions. I did go through and read the descriptions if I was confused about what I was looking . Looking through the images, I simply was thinking simply, do I like this or not? if I don’t really know much about the medium that I’m looking at, then I’ll like to read what the artist has to say about it. But that was the first process. Then I started getting into it a little bit more selective on like if I felt like an emotional connection to it, or if there was some sort of like a deeper pull for me. I started to see what the conversations were between each of the pieces. They’re definitely three big themes of abstract and expressionist type work, nature, and then figurative works. I think the process in general, I would say was fairly chaotic and that it was just a lot of it was just based on like what I felt really drawn to personally.

What do you think you gain most from your jury experience?

I think as an artist myself, that is always applying to be part of, exhibitions and opportunities, these types of experiences are really helpful because it gives you more insight into how art is selected. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just so subjective and so dependent on one person’s individual tastes. It helps me not take things so personally when I don’t get accepted. That’s always the most important takeaway I get from working with like any kind of behind the scenes opportunity, whether it’s like sitting on a panel or being a juror.

I think I’m always just really amazed by how many artists are out there and how good they are. I don’t think it matters like where you are in a city l like New York or some small country town, t just the amount of creativity that is just floating off into the world is inspiring. it motivates me to want to get back into my own work as well.

Unknown Speaker 10:30
Are there words themes or regions that propel you personally to apply to exhibitions like these?

Unknown Speaker 10:42
I think the whole point of a juried exhibition is to have a juror see your work, and it’s a way to get into their view. So that’s how I approach it, which actually makes me kind of bounce back to the last question of like what I learned. I also think that it is very important to have jurors from all backgrounds and perspectives. I definitely think that the artists I picked were artists that resonated with my own work and my own perspective. I didn’t officially count but, I’m pretty sure I selected more women artists than men. The aesthetic that I was drawn to was definitely one that was more based on a female gaze and the work that I picked was definitely more emotionally driven than technical. Therefore I gravitate towards my own preferences, work like mine, and my own identity. This experience also made me think, about how much power is given to that one person who gets to decide who is in the show and how institutions have a responsibility to make sure that power is distributed by offering juroring opportunities to a range of indivilduals.

Tell us what you’re up to next with your personal art practice!

I’m finally getting ready to show my solo exhibition, Izanami, at King Street Station this May. I was supposed to show it in 2020 but then it was postponed for two years because of COVID. I just got back from a four-month trip to Japan to visit family and it kind of gave me a new perspective of my connection to my Japanese heritage and my identity as a United States citizen. I want to make work on that. I’m also feeling more drawn towards other mediums outside of clay, so I think I’m gonna dabble a lot into textile and paper is what I’m thinking right now.

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity