Artists' Television Access

Alice Combs: “Three horizons in a neon sky”

December 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022, block-editor

ATA Window Gallery Presents:
Alice Combs, Three horizons in a neon sky
December 1 – 31, 2022

Drawing inspiration from natural history museum diorama displays, I’m positioning my creature-like vinyl works in the ATA window space interacting in a neon-backdropped environment to tell a fictional story about the plastic-based nature we are living in now and will continue to see. The placement of creatures in the scene signifies something about their role in the environment–how they fight, reproduce, get energy, and sense their surroundings–including the people of Valencia Street. The vinyl creatures become in this scenario like the taxidermied specimens meant to tell onlookers something about life from the past, about the individuals that didn’t survive.

Another important element of dioramas are their subtly curved background paintings which often set the horizon, atmosphere, and time of day for the scene. The neon cloth backdrop of this scene is anything but subtle, and includes three lines of cloud-like ink-bled cloth marking three horizons instead of one. The multiple horizon lines suggest an uncertainty of multiple futures…is a plastic nature where we’re headed? Is it already here? Will it be here for thousands of years to come?

The vinyl sculptures body of work uses reclaimed materials from my day job as a sign maker. Choosing mostly self-adhesive vinyls from color test swatches, miscuts, misprints, and excess, I sculpt densely-layered forms. The forms appear as both whimsically-colored creatures and as folded, curved, and bound bodies. In the process of layering vinyl, I often create short-term rules about patterning and randomness but then change my mind like a picky client. With these sculptures, the relationship between creativity and survival is shown as strained, playful, and subversive all at once.

About the artist
After a 90s childhood spent in Rochester, NY and after completing a biology degree in 2008, Alice Combs moved to San Francisco for an MFA. With a little bit of research and a little bit of humor, she works in diverse–mostly scavenged– media from sculpture to drawing to ephemeral barely-there installations of hair, highlighting the breakdown of everyday rules and objects. She lives, works, and gardens in San Francisco in an intentional community with others who believe art is worth doing.


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