Wk 4 – Artist Conversation – May Ta

Exhibition Information

Artist: May Ta
Exhibition: Closer
Media: Mixed-Media, Graphic Design, Watercolor, Acrylic, Pastel, Ink, Gouache, Ink-jet printer
Gallery: CSULB School of Art
Website: N/A (In progress)
Instagram: maypta
Email: maypta18@gmail.com

About the Artist

This week, I had the pleasure to meet illustrator and visual artist, May Ta. She is currently a 4th year international student from Vietnam (currently staying in Anaheim) studying in the School of Art’s Illustration program. She also gave us a little part of her background information. Growing up, she was surrounded by the sciences, as her family were scientists who were against the arts. So, when she had told them she had wanted to go into the fine arts, they had stopped supporting her during her first year in the program. She had chosen California State University, Long Beach because of their strong art programs offered. When asked what her future goals were, albeit joking, she answered, “like many artists, find a job that can feed myself for the day.”

Formal Analysis

In the Closer exhibition, May Ta had seven pieces and one collaboration piece with Carly Lake. The first one was Estranger, an acrylic and ink piece. It incorporates pastel-like shades of yellow and blue to create a soft oceanic sunset view. The second piece, Him and His, is a digital media and ink jet printer work. It is a contrast to the first piece as it uses browns and hard yellow colors to create a darker scene. The piece shows a man, presumably, walking through a door from an area with light into an area with shadows. Compared to the first piece, this work has visible lines and figures showing definite shapes to the man, door/buildings, and shadows. The third piece is Room Within, a gouache piece. It is a painting depicting a view inside a room; it has two doors and a chair in the middle. The walls are painted a combination of yellow and green, while the floors and chair are brown. The lines are soft but still show shape to the subjects inside the work. The fourth piece, Shadows, is an acrylic and pastel piece depicting four single-panel windows. The walls are a mix of green and yellow, whilst the windows are each different colors. The top left one is a black (or dark green) with a white figure standing by the window pane; the top right is grey (or purple) with a yellow object in the bottom corner (possibly a person slouched over); the bottom right shows half red (a curtain) and the other half, yellow; the bottom left are two shades of green, the lighter shade depicting the wallpaper and the darker green depicting the window pane shadow. The fifth piece, The Windows, is a digital media and ink jet printer work. This is a series of six pieces each in a window pane-like frame. The first one shows a couple enveloped in black; the second shows a person hugging white curtains; the third shows a person looking through curtains; the fourth one shows an empty wall with a single picture frame; the fifth one shows the shadows of a couple sitting down at a table; the sixth one shows black flowers in a white vase and the arm plus shadow of a figure. Ta’s sixth piece, U, is an ink collection of 7 pieces. They vary from simplistic to detailed, from black-and-whites to yellows to dark greys. Five pieces depict embrace or affection, while the other two show individual “shots.” The seventh piece, The Morning After, is also a digital media and ink jet printer piece. This piece is dominated by blues that creates an rippled oceanic scene and a smooth sky. In the corner, is a patch of white land with a black-figured couple walking across it. Ta’s collaboration piece with Carly Lake, Nightstand, is a micron pen, digital media, and found objects piece. It includes two framed drawings and painting, two other drawn pieces, and four photos all on a nightstand table. Next to the table was also a chair (not depicted).

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Content Analysis

In the artworks above, the artist is exploring ideas of loneliness and the desire for intimacy. The collaborative exhibit of Ta and Lake is an “investigat[ion of] the existence  of a balance between intimacy with others and intimacy with ourselves” (Closer artist statement). The background of the exhibition is that the room belongs to a deceased owner, who left an incomplete drawing. The spectators enter and invade the privacy of this deceased man’s room. The room was laid out to go deeper into the emotional privacy of the man as spectators are exploring their bodies as “conveyors of unspoken sentiments,” which are depicted throughout the various gestures in the pieces. The artists created a room that was based on a man who had died and had nothing.

Synthesis / My Experience

Initially, I did not really understand the meaning behind the pieces. I had just thought, “I can see that there is supposed to be some deep meaning behind these, but I wonder what it is.” After reading the artist statement and talking to the artist herself, I started to grasp an idea of the thoughts behind the exhibition. As someone who had struggled with loneliness and trying to find oneself, I had found a connection, in a sense, to this exhibition and presented sentiments of this made up character. I had really liked The Windows and how they had created the frames to make them look like window panes. The different emotions and scenes created really stuck with me for some reason and was simply aesthetically pleasing. I was also amazed to learn that not only did it take the artists two months to complete (started late May and worked over it during the summer), but it was also Ta’s first time working together with her partner, Carly Lake. I wish Ta all the best in her future works and I will definitely be following her works through her social media (and hopefully her website when it is set up)!

(Side note: I apologize for the poorly taken photo.)

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