Experience 43: PLANT at ESMoA will likely change the way you view everything in nature, from a dried seed pod on the sidewalk to a branch of pussy willow in a vase.
By Maureen Kingsley
Plants. They represent life, growth, death, regeneration. They are as much a part of our daily lives as water and air, and are just as quietly important.
Plants are also “like a language,” says Bernhard Zuenkeler, curator of Experience 43: PLANT, an exhibition of works by German artist Amely Spoetzl now available for viewing at El Segundo’s ESMoA through January 25, 2020. “Plants convey ideas through geometry, patterns, and repetitive systems,” Bernhard says; and, indeed, Amely has highlighted those characteristics of nature, played with them, and transformed them in her selected ESMoA artworks.
ESMoA’s interactive PLANT experience “invites visitors to peek inside” Amely’s studio, says Eugenia Torre, director of information and media for ESMoA, “and experience the ephemeral nature of plants” through her creations. Some of Amely’s pieces are individual, delicate plant parts she has gathered and treated with paint or precious metal, or strung onto fine fishing line, such as in “Evolution,” at the front of the gallery. Others are larger scale, magnificent works of symmetry, redundancy, and rhythm, including “24 Point Star-Fig Leave,” “Meander Star-Plane Leave,” and “First Spring.” There is a mathematical, algorithmic element to Amely’s work that is mesmerizing and invites the viewer to study it and look for patterns.
“Amely is a master of observation,” says curator Bernhard. “She sees details and complexity,” and those traits of hers are absolutely apparent in her work. What feels magical about her pieces is that they are recognizable yet transformed, taking the seemingly ordinary and making it extraordinary.
Amely’s work reflects a multidisciplinary approach to nature as well. In her “Just a Moment, Please” photo series, produced in collaboration with photographer Bernd Zoellner, she presents plants as part of a sociology experiment; whereas in “Schlafbrille” (“Sleep mask”), on display at El Segundo Public Library, and “Into Dark” (also with Bernd Zoellner), her work with plants is more spiritual and personal.
PLANT also includes an interactive artwork, “Thicket,” to which visitors can actively contribute, using drawing tools created by Spoetzl from charred branches and wood pieces scavenged from the recent wildfires in Malibu. “Thicket” fills most of the rear of the gallery.
The ESMoA Experience Award recipient for PLANT is Jasmine Nyende (pictured), a new-media artist from South Central L.A. whose work explores the fields of fiber, music, and community-based social practice through poetry, plays, and experimental performance. Her installation, “Experience 22: A Love Letter to the California Coast,” is a large-scale, dynamic work mounted in ESMoA’s entryway. Visitors are invited to add to the installation during the run of PLANT. (Jasmine is warm and welcoming, and she will happily teach you some needlepoint if you are interested but unsure!)
Experience 43: PLANT runs through January.
Images: Detail from "Evolution" by Amely Spoetzl photographed by Maureen Kingsley; "Immortal-Ophelia" by Amely Spoetzl provided by ESMoA; "Thicket" by Amely Spoetzl (and visitors to the gallery) provided by ESMoA; "Desire" by Amely Spoetzl provided by ESMoA; "Sprout" film festival poster provided by ESMoA; "24 Point Star Fig Tree Leave" by Amely Spoetzl provided by ESMoA; "First Spring" by Amely Spoetzl provided by ESMoA; "Inside Sky" by Amely Spoetzl and Bernd Zoellner; "The Beginning of Something" by Amely Spoetzl provided by ESMoA.
Photo of Jasmine Nyende provided by ESMoA.
This story appears in the November 2019 issue of The El Segundo Scene.