Sunday in the Studios

June Rustigan


On Sunday, December 8th, a handful of Hammer Student Association members made a brief but inspiring visit to the UCLA Graduate Studios in Culver City. Within this space, UCLA’s Graduate Fine Art students shared with us a collection of pieces they planned to show on December 15 at the Graduate Open Studios.

In the Studios, stark white winding hallways with open entrances give glimpses into each artist’s individual aesthetic. At first glance, it is nothing short of an art-infused maze. HSA paid a visit to four particular artists: Erin Morrison, Frank Stockton, Sarah McMenimen, and Jeff St. Andrews, each with a distinct style completely unlike the other.

Our first stop of the day was Sara McMenimen’s studio. A brief tour of her collection showed strong, large-scale, monochromatic photography and mixed media that explored concepts of highly contrasted light, motion, and form.

We next visited Frank Stockton’s studio. Bright hues and bold, geometric shapes immediately jumped out from the oil-on-canvas paintings that lined each wall. Textured globs of vibrant reds, blues, and yellow paints covered the central wooden table, and Matisse’s famous cut-out artwork peeked out from the book-lined shelves. Needless to say, Stockton is not afraid to play with color.

In his work, Stockton often references everyday objects and gives them new meaning. Symmetrical curves of an iron gate translate into symmetries between painted bodies of color, and dishes and utensils in a kitchen sink are abstractly organized to evoke controlled clutter. Through his practice, Stockton continually asks himself how to create art free from overdetermination.

We ended our tour at the studio of Erin Morrison, whose paintings were featured in Issue V of Graphite–a cozy and eclectic space that could easily have doubled as a second home. Surrounded by flea market finds, collections of glass bottles and mason jars filled with paints and dyes, we sat down alongside Morrison’s dog on comfortable couches, and with homemade green tea in hand, listened to the artist discuss her work and the inspiration behind it.

Morrison cites artists who use quilt work to play with vibrant patterns and colors as incredibly influential to her paintings. On the floor lay Gees Bend’s famous book of quilts. Morrison’s own work combines passages of intense color with alternating patterns and bold geometric shapes that recall large-scale quilts. Upon closely examining her paintings, we noticed how highly textured the pieces actually were. Unlike the other graduate students we visited, Morrison prefers to show her work in incomplete stages during open studios, and the paintings we observed are still in the process of development.

Many thanks to these talented artists for sharing their work and stories with HSA!