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Thursday, June 8, 2023

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Arts + CultureArt'Material Conditional' refashions cultural refuse into objects of adoration

‘Material Conditional’ refashions cultural refuse into objects of adoration

Mending Collective members Leeza Doreian and Liz Harvey's show at Round Weather subverts fast fashion with expressive vulnerability

Leeza Doreian & Liz Harvey: Material Conditional (through December 27 at Round Weather), pushes against the excessive nature of fast fashion by portraying and refashioning textiles and notions with an intimate, slow, and personal touch. 

Featuring Bay Area-based artists Leeza Doreian and Liz Harvey, Material Conditional harnesses a considered, playful, and resilient energy to subvert perspectives of the throwaway culture by showcasing the beauty of overlooked objects. The exhibition, curated by the gallery’s executive director Chris Kerr, is both contemplative and exuberant. In addition to the throughline of sustainability present in the exhibition, Doreian and Harvey tap into their personal narrative, imbuing each piece with another layer of intrigue. The show spans both levels of Round Weather’s sunny lofted East Bay gallery with paintings, banners, collages, and sculptural work from both Doreian and Harvey intermixed throughout. 

Liz Harvey, ‘Red Shift,’ 2001, fabric, zippers, thread

In Harvey’s Red Shift and Yellow Shift, saturated colors printed on linen compete for attention, with the bright hues of the zippers sewn loosely to the fabric’s surface. The zippers spell out excerpts from Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson. The zippers droop with the weight of their form, making it challenging to decipher the phrase amid the busy patterns and shapes printed on the linen fabric. In this way, She leverages illegibility to point towards the erasure of queer histories and the need to bring these stories into the cultural spotlight. 

One aspect of Harvey’s process involves cutting away text blocks from found printed material, largely drawn from advertising. From there, she layers these pieces of cultural ephemeral, creating maximalist collages, some of which are included in the exhibition. Further, the linen backdrop to the banners Red Shift and Yellow Shift are iterations of collages, adding a layer to the subversive underpinnings of the work. 

Leeza Doreian, ‘Full Moon: Mensis, Masah, and Mona,’ 2017, gouache on paper.

In the second-floor gallery, the exhibition includes three of 13 gouache paintings from Doreian’s series Indigo Rising. A blue polka-dotted blouse wrapped tightly around an orb hovers against a white backdrop, emphasizing the shadow cast across the surface of the bundled fabric. Each painting is named after a phase of the moon cycle. By using a polyester blouse, known for its high plastic content, to represent the moon, which dictates the ocean tides, Doreian subtly calls attention to the mounds of wasted fabric washing up on shorelines. Among the ominous undertones of this series, there is a beautiful vulnerability present throughout Doreian’s paintings in the exhibition.

The paintings are meticulous and intimate, transforming remnants of garments into objects of adoration. Almost hypnotic, these supple paintings draw intense focus to the gentle folds of a sleeve, an exposed seam, or a torn collar, such that they take on an ethereal quality. Undulating patterns are a throughline among the pieces in the gallery. The artist cites her draw to pattern and repetition as influenced by her neurodivergent experience of the world. Each piece included in the exhibition is painted to scale from a still life she constructed in her studio, which she cites as an act of respect for the objects themselves. Her compassion, evident in her technique and concept, pushes against fast-paced consumerism and instead turns the viewer’s attention to the reverence of each object already in circulation. 

Liz Harvey, ‘Map (Yellow Shift),’ 2021, collage on paper

Together, Doreian and Harvey serve as active members of Mending Collective, which hold frequent workshops to gather, sew, and share techniques. They hosted Wear Out, a free mending workshop, as a public-facing aspect of the exhibition. Furthering the ecologically conscious thread, as is typical of Round Weather, the gallery will donate 30% of proceeds from artwork sales to climate crisis mitigation via a rotating selection of nonprofits. For the current exhibition, proceeds will support the nonprofits Honor the Earth, Oil Change International, and Sunrise Movement.

LEEZA DOREIAN & LIZ HARVEY: MATERIAL CONDITIONAL runs through December 27 at Round Weather, SF. More info here.

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