Napa Gallery hosts “The F Word” and other compelling takes on contemporary culture

Newswise — For featured artists Kayla Mattes and Elisa Ortega, the title of their exhibit, “The F Word,” stands for “fiber,” “fabric” and “feminism.”

“The F Word” is on exhibit at the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Napa Gallery through April 4 with a reception scheduled for Thursday, March 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Napa Hall.

Ortega and Mattes both tackle contemporary issues about power structures, politics and consumerism using an art medium traditionally associated with women – fiber and fabric. The artists say there is a built-in feminist narrative that comes from working with textiles.

Ortega is a visual artist and social worker pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara. Ortega’s fiber sculptures are largely made from discarded fiber as she explores her experience as a woman living in the U.S. while maintaining her Spanish identity. She also is illustrating her objection to over-consumption and her commitment to environmental sustainability. 

Mattes works in handwoven tapestries and sculpture to analyze our political climate using texture, color, symbols and graphics — plus a healthy dose of irony.

“I attempt to preserve the fast-paced nature of the digital world through the tangible process of weaving,” Mattes said. “This can mean archiving everyday symbols and graphics that exist on the web, along with written text and other forms of communication, like emojis.” 

Appearing with “The F Word” at the Napa Hall Palm Gallery is a collection of work from about 50 artists from Adolfo Camarillo High School who are expressing the digital experience of growing up as part of “Generation Z,” or those born in 1995 or later.

“As artists who are part of this generation, we find ourselves engulfed in ever-changing technology that we were born into,” said the group’s artists’ statement. “As such, we have adapted to the ability to multitask where we can quickly shift from doing homework on the computer, research information on our devices, and communicate with others on social media.”

On the Napa Hall Grad Wall 1 is “Seasons of Migration,” a series of paintings reflective of Class of 2018 Art graduate Elizabeth Souza’s experiences as an immigrant and a descendant of many generations of migration. Souza is Dutch-Indonesian or “Indo,” the result of 300 years of Dutch expansion into the Pacific. Souza is a painter, illustrator, fiber artist, craft teacher, published magazine writer, dancer, choreographer, and costumer who returned to college in her 50s, after raising her children. 

Her paintings center on two themes: her unique ethnic identity as Dutch Indonesian and her dancer, artist and musician friends who have created a kind of “modern bohemian” subculture.

“My work is primarily figurative because the human form and face are powerful means of communication instinctively read by viewers,” she said. “Although it is created in a realistic style, it contains magical elements that evoke a dreamtime state of being.”

Napa Hall Grad Wall 2 is an edgy collection from Studio Art major Timothy Melgoza, who graduates this spring. Melgoza, who enjoys working in pen and ink, aims to make his work evocative. Such as the illustration of a cockroach snacking on a human finger.

“I like to do things for shock value or to make people laugh or make people angry,” Melgoza said. “They have some dark humor elements to them.” 

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