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Shulamit Nazarian
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Cammie Staros at Shulamit Nazarian

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January 16, 2021 - March 6, 2021

(All times are in PDT)

After endless months of home-bound isolation, I have been experiencing a bit of over-stimulation when I leave the house. Graciously, Cammie Staros’ current exhibition at Shulamit Nazarian slowly brings viewers into a soothing and mystical realm where fish swim with waving vessels and colored neons slowly shift our perception of color over time. The artist riffs off of museum-displays with a series of dramatically spotlit aquariums set into pedestals or walls. A ceramic sculpture resides submerged into each watery landscape, creating explorative spaces for whirling minnows or bulging goldfish. The vessels are loosely modeled after Grecian vases. But Staros’ objects are bent and warped, as in “Futurum Fluidum,” whose image resembles a Greek amphora from one view, and a curvaceous bodily profile from another. Colored neons installed above the playful pieces create the illusion of LED lights that are dripping out of their linear forms, and create a subtle shift in color from blue to aquamarine in the main gallery space.

The second gallery space abruptly shifts to warm red lighting, and devoid of any aquariums gives the space a dry and earthen feeling. Central here is “Concha Clavata,” a large open vessel filled with a series of spiky teeth, subtly referencing the sarlacc sandpit creature from “Star Wars.” This shift in energy between both gallery spaces — from fluid and peaceful to crusty and somewhat threatening — lend an ominous overtone to the exhibition’s overall soothing nature, perhaps alluding to the eventual potential of a world devoid of humans, in which flora and fauna slowly rehabilitate the artifacts left behind.

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Photo: Cammie Staros, “What Will Have Being,” installation view. Image courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles. Photo by Morgan Waltz.