Pond Lily Over Mushroom Cloud: Byron Kim Adapts the Black on Black Cosmology of Maria Martinez
Pond Lily Over Mushroom Cloud: Byron Kim Adapts the Black on Black Cosmology of Maria Martinez presents a new project by La Jolla-born, New York-based artist Byron Kim, produced on the occasion of the Centennial of the Panama–California Exposition. Known for his monochromatic paintings, Kim explores subjects of cultural identity, race, politics, and art history, all in the guise of pure abstraction. In Pond Lily Over Mushroom Cloud, Kim’s interest lies in the Panama–California Exposition’s ethnography exhibits, which staged displays of living Native Americans performing various activities, from making traditional crafts, to cooking, to ceremonial dancing. Maria Martinez (1887-1980), an established ceramicist from the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley, was featured demonstrating her famed revival of a traditional Pueblo style of black-on-black pottery. Kim takes Martinez’s signature aesthetic as his point of departure for a new series of minimalist paintings, taking cue from her monochromatic color, geometric and animal motifs, and even her making process. With these works, Kim confronts notions of craft, primitivism, modernism, and the fraught legacy of events such as the Panama-California Exposition.
Pond Lily Over Mushroom Cloud: Byron Kim Adapts the Black on Black Cosmology of Maria Martinez is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.