Ensemble of Cultures by Lisa Abaya


Common Artifact. Pair of Earrings (United States) 2018. Wood and Pearls. 

        This pair of earrings draws inspiration from the Inagaki mask, a piece of anonymously carved wood with only a region and broad time span to define its origins. This lacking narrative invites the viewer to imagine the motives of the creator, and the depth of the item’s cultural significance.  Are ideologies, context and conflicts lost or preserved through a beautiful object? The importance of conserving items of culture intrigued me to create an artifact of my own. My history is a culture of hybridity, a fusion of peoples that would not otherwise be connected. Both my mother and my grandmother built metaphorical bridges between Mexicans, Chinese and Serbians through marriage, with their offspring as an embodiment of this connection. What is culturally normal for me, I now realize is abnormal for most of the world. These earrings combine precious materials of China and Africa, to symbolize the union of my marriage. I use jewelry as a descriptive place mark, not merely an item of adornment but a vehicle for narrating a new story through its beauty. These earrings are meant to be worn, with the intention of interlocking form and history. 

This piece is showing at the Barnes Foundation show "Let's Connect", open until June 4, 2018.  


St. Chapelle by Lisa Abaya

      I have always been intrigued by the fluidity of color, the way it seems to change based on its context to light. Various times of day seem to affect the same object so that it can appear dark yet vibrant, or highlighted and subdued. Location also seems to alter color; certain landscapes house varieties of vibrant colors effortlessly, while other places manage only a limited spectrum. It has been my interest to capture these various light experiences. 

    Old churches create a unique light experience, using moderation to create a profound effect.  The most visually stunning experience in my life was entering Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The architecture of this building is composed of colored light. Within the chapel, the viewer walks through darker space towards the watercolored light. These paintings emulate that path, a transfiguration of thought and a connection to our spirit, obliging the viewer to think of the unseen world. There is wonder to art and its processes, and a mystery within this calling to create. My art reflects the trials, search and revelation as I grasp for truth and a sense of place in this world.