Art dealing in mass and minimalism isn’t always a natural fit with photography. Generally I find sculpture to be more successful at conveying volume. Zelda Zinn’s photographs, to the contrary, have strong sense of sculptural shape along with a kind of appealing delicacy.
When she laid them out on my review table at FotoFest, I thought first of a fluid sort of Op Art and of Bridget Riley, though I’d never been a huge fan of the movement aside from its latter influence in adorning a pair of Vans or a Punk club wall. Zinn’s images on the other hand were light, lilting things, not the optical wallop and graphic hydraulics of Op. Her series “Natural Selection” initially led me to thinking they weren’t photographs at all, but drawings – incredibly airy drawings. Evoking cloud imagery, Zelda Zinn uses an array of simple diaphanous materials like the “Plain Jane” of fabrics, cheesecloth as her muse. Normally a utilitarian cooking tool used to squeeze the water out of spinach or mozzarella, in Zinn’s hand the cloth becomes an eloquent conveyor of light, and it’s fine grid detail has a minute seductive, mathematical quality (hence the Op references).
Zinn is featured along with artist Frida Kao at Art-Merge at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood through September 29. I was glad to see the work in advance without a crowd and was greeted (a rare thing in a gallery) by the talented and engaging gallerist Jae Yang. Yang has assembled the equivalent of two solo shows with Kao’s “Lines of Desire” anchoring the large front room in a mix of grand scale sculptural work and works on paper. Kao’s installation reflects a fascination with the maps and grids of the city of Los Angeles. The work is immensely compatible with that of Zelda Zinn who presents two bodies of work in the smaller, but not too small, Closet Galleries.
Zinn presents two additional series: “Irresistible Air” and “Illuminated Letters.” In “Irresistible Air” the photographer fashions a series of air packets, like those from shipping crates into magical suspended bubbles of silvery light. She writes “There is something irresistible about air pockets. They beg to be touched, played with, and sometimes popped. I toyed with them, twisting and fashioning them into a variety of shapes, looking for something that felt right. The funny thing about these pillows was how they were transformed when seen through the camera.” I was struck by the way the photographs read as hard, dark, dense mass when seen from five or so feet and upon closer inspection at roughly one foot, “Irresistible Air” becomes just that – light and translucent.
In “Illuminated Letters” we get a chance to see Zinn’s own hand beyond the camera and her constructions. Her pencil drawings on Duralene explore a fascination with camouflage.
“Once I began to look for disruptive pattern, I saw it everywhere, even the insides of envelopes which brought me my bills. At first, I carefully unfolded the paper, trying to preserve and faithfully reproduce what was there. Later, I ripped open the envelopes, enjoying the jagged edges and new shapes created by chance. Finally, I used the shapes of the envelopes and the patterns within as a jumping off point, letting them guide me ‘off the grid.’ The resultant images were unplanned and largely unconscious reactions to what the page presented.”
Opportunities to see Zelda Zinn’s work abound this month. Her exhibition will run through September 29th at Art – Merge at the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, Suite B256 (Blue Building | 2nd Floor) West Hollywood, CA 90069 Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 5:00pm. Saturday and Sunday by appointment only.
She also has work in the Crossroads Faculty Show, where she has been a faculty member since 1990 and art department Chair since 1995. Sam Francis Gallery, Crossroads School, Santa Monica, through October 12, 2012, 10 am to 4 pm.
At LA Center for Digital Art, Zinn’s work is included in the Electron Salon through October 5, 2012 at 102 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, 90013.
Lastly, at Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Zelda Zinn was selected for inclusion in the juried group exhibition, Center Forward, showing through October 20th, 2012 at 400 North College Avenue.