Children of the sun
WORKS BY ISIS AQUARIAN, ALISON BLICKLE, DELIA BROWN, ROBERTA GENTRY, REMA GHULOUM, ROCHELE GOMEZ, NATALJA KENT, JULIKA LACKNER, SHANA MOULTON, MARY ANNA POMONIS, & MADAM X
SEPTEMBER 22 THROUGH DECEMBER 20, 2019
CHILDREN OF THE SUN: Works by Isis Aquarian, Alison Blickle, Delia Brown, Roberta Gentry, Rema Ghuloum, Rochele Gomez, Natalia Kent, Julika Lackner, Shana Moulton, Mary Anna Pomonis, and Madam X. More artist information below essay.
… “Of all forms of yellow, all–knowing.
The supreme goal, the one light, giving heat.
Thousand-rayed, existing in a hundred forms.
The sun rises as the breath of creatures. “
- Prashna Upanishad (1)
Children of the Sun examines works by women across a spectrum of media toward popular cultural, political, and historical understandings of the Sun as a metaphysical source of total enlightenment or absolution. Children of the Sun proceeds from Isis Aquarian’s rare 1970s documentation of The Source Family, a Los Angeles cult figuring around the patriarchal leader, Father Yod, who they considered their “Sun” or center of their universe. These images detail the workings of a California mysticism, a specifically American variety of Eastern-Western confluences and accumulations of philosophies, ideologies, religiosities, with women cast in the role of the worshipful, a faith bound in the bounty of a reproductive energy.
Accompanying the historical photos are critiques of and homages to the Sun and contemporary spirituality by 10 Southern California-based artists. In the exhibit we see the Sun as a phenomenological power, an examination of women's relationship to this spiritual power, and a decidedly Californian-cultural location to a spiritual conflict or encounter with the Sun. The works range from complex and fastidious painting incorporating sacred geometry by Roberta Gentry, Julika Lackner, and Mary Anna Pomonis to dreamy, ethereal sunrises by Rema Ghouloum. Through optic distortions of light, time, and space, Natalja Kent’s camera-less photograph renders a portal to alternate dimensions, while Madam X’s meticulously labored gouache and colored pencil work on paper depicts a “cosmic~human” transcending through alchemic elements beyond the cosmos. In Alison Blickle's desert scenes and ceramic representations, a psychic tension arises between the figures distorted in the sunlight and heat against the fired materiality of the sun disk, resolving as premonitions or hallucinations, whereas Rochele Gomez’s stained glass work figures the Sun's light as a means of demystifying art historical narratives departing from euro-centric modes of thought. Notions of enlightenment and holism within the wellness industry, a phenomenon rooted in Californian mystical-cultural developments, are turned wryly by Delia Brown’s paintings, while Shana Moulton’s whimsical video deconstructs the interior world of her alter-ego, “Cynthia,” a hypochondriac seeking the next fad/cure in her morning rituals.
Veneration of the Sun as a deity in art and architecture has been documented from primitive eras through today. The symbol of the Sun in ancient to contemporary ideologies has stood as a constant reminder of “wisdom, truth, justice, the all-seeing and omniscient eye.” (2) The Sun has also embodied the heavens and the underworld simultaneously in various cults and religions—its world historical presence in ancient societies boundless—, from Brazilian cave paintings to Stonehenge, as well as the pyramids of the Aztecs, the Mayans, and the Egyptians, for which stones were erected upward to a point resting in gratitude for the brilliant spiritual energy of the heavens. Heliotheistic Aztecs offered live human hearts (3), Egyptians donned gilded sun masks representing god in their sacred ceremonies (4), and Greeks built the Colossus of Rhodes dedicated to the sun god Helios, a gargantuan 33 meter high bronze statue considered to have been one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. (5) In modernity, expressionism and abstraction gave space formally to the psychic encounters of women with the Sun, as metaphysical solar allusions appeared in the works of Hilma af Klimt, Emma Kunz, Georgia O’Keefe, and Agnes Pelton.
Groundwork for Children of the Sun was laid in 2005 when exhibition curator Annie Wharton moved to Los Angeles and began to explore the phenomenological history of her chosen environs. She used this research for her first LA curatorial endeavor, a group show called Dreamland at Jail Gallery in 2008, which examined alternate realities, enhanced awareness, and escapism. In the ensuing years, Wharton has studied the metaphysical past of Southern California and curated projects in the US and Europe with these analyses in mind. This exhibit includes research by LADIES’ ROOM curatorial assistant Fiona Lamb, whose interest in esoteric knowledge, Jungian archetypes, and the metaphysical commenced as a journey of self-discovery in 2008.
In encountering the discursive history of the Sun and its mystical properties of light, the works assembled in Children of the Sun variously honor solar energy as a source of life problematized. In its power over creation, a space of contestation has arisen, inherited by women and re-figured—all its brilliance, wonder, and uncanny. With such accumulations of thought, and a channel of reproductive energy billions of years from extinguishment, there remains incalculable light to cast of the Sun in art. Children of the Sun points toward the specific vision of the California Sun in our collective past, as a meditation presently, and onward of cultural futures in our epoch, evincing prophetic elucidations and works of awe.
(1) Prashna Upanishad 1:7, 8
(2) Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS). The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2010.
(3) Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS). The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images. Cologne, Germany: Taschen, 2010.
(4) Henry, Kathryn Davis. Symbolism Through the Ages. Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1993.
(5) Hall, Manly Palmer. The Secret Teachings of All Ages. - An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy, Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories and Mysteries of All Ages, Theosophical Edition. 1st edition. San Francisco, CA: H. S. Crocker Company, Inc, 1928.
ISIS AQUARIAN (The Source Family Archives): (b. 1942, Denver, CO. Sun Sign: Taurus) was the Source Family’s official photographer, archivist and historian, and was one of Father Yod’s 13 wives. She co-authored a book entitled The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13, and the Source Family, and was an integral part of the documentary film as producer for The Source Family. Her works were featured in The Visionary Experience: Saint Francis to Finster, curated by Rebecca Alban Hoffberger and Jodi Wille at American Visionary Art Museum. Aquarian lives and works in Hawaii.
ALISON BLICKLE (b. 1976, San Diego, CA. Sun Sign: Libra) Earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA and a Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College, New York, NY. She has had solo exhibitions at UNTITLED Art Fair San Francisco, (represented by Five Car Garage, Los Angeles) in San Francisco, CA; Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, NY; Five Car Garage, Los Angeles, CA; and Eleanor Harwood, San Francisco, CA. Recent group exhibitions include MOCA Toronto, Toronto, Canada; MOCA Tucson, AZ; Big Pictures LA, Los Angeles, CA; Galerie Poulsen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Five Car Garage, Los Angeles, CA; and Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York, NY. Blickle lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
DELIA BROWN (b. 1969, Berkeley, CA. Sun Sign: Libra) earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY; Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, KOR; Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO; and D’Amelio Terras Gallery, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY; Rental Gallery, East Hampton, NY; and Galerie Hervé Bize, Nancy, France. She is currently a Diebenkorn Fellow at San Francisco Art Institute. Brown lives and works in Los Angeles.
ROBERTA GENTRY (b. 1984, Safford, AZ. Sun Sign: Virgo) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2-Dimensional Studies from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from State University of New York, Albany, NY. She has had solo exhibitions at Elephant Art Space, Los Angeles, CA; Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Chatham, NY; and Terra Nova Gallery, Troy, NY. Recent group exhibitions include QiPO 01, QiPO Art Fair, Mexico City, MX; The Front, New Orleans, LA; Icosa Collective, Austin, TX; Durden and Ray, Los Angeles, CA; Brand Art Center, Glendale, CA; and Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been written about in the LA Times, Maake Magazine, Diversions LA, and Fabrik Magazine. Gentry lives and works in Los Angeles.
REMA GHULOUM (b. 1978, Los Angeles, CA. Sun Sign: Virgo) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting from California State University Long Beach, Long Beach, CA, and a Master of Fine Arts from California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA. She has had solo shows at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, CA; Hawthorn Contemporary in Milwaukee, WI; and Et al., San Francisco, CA. Recent group exhibitions include Big Pictures Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; JAUS, Los Angeles, CA; Tiger Strikes Asteroid LA, Los Angeles, CA; The Front, New Orleans, LA; and Bentley Gallery, Phoenix, AZ. She was also a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant, the Esalen Pacifica Prize, and the Adolf and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant. Ghuloum lives and works in Los Angeles.
ROCHELE GOMEZ (b. 1980, Panorama City, CA. Sun Sign: Scorpio) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from California State University, Long Beach, CA and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine, CA. She has had solo exhibitions at mandujano/cell, Los Angeles, CA; Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles, CA; and LA><ART, Los Angeles, CA. Recent group exhibitions include National Museum, Berlin, Germany; Galleria Curro, Guadalajara, Mexico; and Spring Valley Branch Library, Spring Valley, CA. Gomez lives and works in Los Angeles.
NATALJA KENT (b. 1981, Lubbock, TX. Sun Sign: Gemini) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY and a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI. Recently, Kent had a solo show at LADIES’ ROOM, Los Angeles, CA. Selected exhibitions include Tate Liverpool, UK; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; Hiromi Yoshi Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; PS1, MoMA, Queens, NY; Tarot Society, Brooklyn, NY; Columbus Theatre, Providence, RI; and Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Kent lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
JULIKA LACKNER (b. 1980, Berlin, Germany. Sun Sign: Gemini). Solo exhibitions at Mertens Fine Art, Montecito, CA; Plum Goods, Santa Barbara, CA; and Mandarin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. She has also been featured in group exhibitions at Gippsland Art Gallery, curated by Simon Gregg, Sale, Australia; Curatorial Hub, curated by Bettina Hubby, Culver City, CA; Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, curated by James Hayward, Telluride, CO; MiM Gallery, Culver City, CA, curated by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at LADIES’ ROOM. Lackner lives and works in Los Angeles.
SHANA MOULTON (b. 1976, Oakhurst, CA. Sun Sign: Cancer) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, CA and a Master of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. She attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, MN and De Ateliers, AMSTERDAM, NL. She has had solo exhibitions at the Palais De Tokyo, Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland, Art in General, New York, Fondazione Morra Greco, Naples, Galeria Arsenał, Białystok, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta, La Loge, Brussels, The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, and the Zabludovicz Collection, London. Recent group exhibitions include Observatories, The Center for the Arts, Jackson, WY; Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth, Australia; and Villa Empain - Fondation Boghossain, Brussels, Belgium. Moulton lives and works in Santa Barbara, CA.
MARY ANNA POMONIS (b. 1973, Urbana, IL. Sun Sign: Virgo) earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, IL and a Master of Fine Arts from Washington University in St Louis, MO. She has had solo exhibitions at Nan Rae Gallery, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA; Terrain Exhibitions, Oak Park, IL; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; and Annie Wharton Los Angeles, West Hollywood, CA. Recent group exhibitions include Brand Library, Glendale, CA; CB1-Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Marrickville Garage, Sydney, Australia; Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, CA; Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange, CA; LACMA, Los Angeles, CA; Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Patricia Correia Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. She has upcoming exhibitions at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, CA, and LADIES’ ROOM, Los Angeles, CA. Pomonis lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.
MADAM X: Nothing is known about Madam X.