The Degradation of an Unstable Dispersion



Visitors of the Brandstater Gallery at La Sierra University will be enthralled by the striking monochrome elements of its latest art exhibit. From Jan. 13 to Feb. 7, 2019, the art department showcased “The Degradation of an Unstable Dispersion.” Created by artists Ivana Quezada and Madeline Gardner, drawings drenched in charcoal and metallic ink displayed abstraction on an immersive scale, with the largest pieces measured at 16 feet by 6 feet. With expansive horizontal and vertical placements, viewers must often step back to get a full view of the work.

The name of the exhibit came from the imagination of Ivana Quezada, who stated: “The Degradation of an Unstable Dispersion eludes to that theme of motion and decay in our non-objective forms. When I think of the imagery [Madeline and I] individually created, I see the forms as having experienced change and are naturally moving towards a state of equilibrium but never reaching it fully, staying in a state of unpredictable change without fixity, never permanently settling.”

Madeline Gardner also shared what the title meant to her, describing it as an extension of nature. “When a scattering of objects settle, they take on an arrangement according to the way the smaller components amass. This unstable formation applies to many forms and processes in nature, from asteroids hurtling through the cosmos to grains of sand swirling through ocean waves. ”

“The Degradation of an Unstable Dispersion” advanced far beyond the typical expectations of color and design in art. It encompassed dark matter, both fascinating and chilling, allowing an inclusive experience for every type of observer. “I found that in art school, I had difficulty painting and the finished works weren’t critiqued well. This was due to a color deficiency I have, so I ended up drawing in place of painting,” stated Gardner. “I think that drawing allows for a certain immediacy that painting does not. Also, since many humans see color differently, having the art exist in monochrome creates an equal playing field in that respect.” Quezada’s inspiration stemmed from the impactful and relatable form of reality. Her lack of color is no accident, but an intentional representation of ambiguity. “...I am primarily influenced by the idea that through ordinary shapes, colors, and lines one can establish a sense of transcendence, that is clear of any objective subjects. By creating monochromatic, unrecognizable textural abstract forms that imitate reality to an extent, there is a distance from reality through the ambiguity of the subject.”

To an outside observer, it may seem that the creation of art is a natural or unconscious process. However, there was a lot of hard work that went into this exhibit. Between juggling scholastic responsibilities and personal growth, both artists struggled to produce pieces they felt were worthy of release. Gardner, an Azusa Pacific graduate, stated, “Creating work for a show only two months in advance [was the hardest part]. I had to visualize the space in order to decide what size the works needed to be. I also set deadlines to finish each drawing so that I could complete the body of work I envisioned.”

Ivana Quezada, a Pratt Institute graduate, added in agreement, stating that “[The most difficult parts were] time management and creating work outside of a school setting, where you have professors and deadlines as a motivation to create.” Nevertheless, their hard work paid off with a multitude of positive reviews and admiration. “I received encouraging feedback and responses from the viewers of this exhibit that validated what I hope to achieve through each drawing I create,” said Quezada.

While numerous words and phrases were used on the plaques to narrate “The Degradation of an Unstable Dispersion,” both artists were able to come up with their own personal words to describe the entire exhibit. “Pivotal,” stated Gardner. “One of the audience members posed a question as to how my art would take shape in other forms, such as sound, taste, touch, smell. This question encouraged me to begin working in sculpture.”

Quezada’s word was “Duality. My work depends largely on the presence of opposite yet complementary components, both conceptually and stylistically … my focus is on the duality of the familiar and the unknown. I want the viewer to experience an exploration into unknown areas without knowing exactly what is present. There is an exploration and a discovery into each work that can allow for a place of contemplation in the sublime, that balance of terror and beauty.”