Detail of Bullwinkle and Hammerhead (mural, ink and acrylic) by Johnathan “JJ” Wilson at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Detail of Bullwinkle and Hammerhead (mural, ink and acrylic,2012) by Johnathan “JJ” Wilson at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Adoration, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Adventure, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Connected, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, Golden Girl, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, sRGB 1EC61966-2.1, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, The Commonwealth, assemblage with live performance, 2012, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
Patrick Segura, www, assemblage, 2011, Acadiana Center for the Arts, Lafayette, LA
by Reggie Michael Rodrigue
By all indications, the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette is doing its job well (despite its quirks). Either that, or we in the Lafayette art scene are experiencing a great generational fluke in the guise of a bumper crop of amazingly gifted and promising young artists. Leading the pack are two recent graduates from ULL who are currently exhibiting some of the most forceful, intelligent, and innovative work that I’ve seen in this city in years at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Johnathan “JJ” Wilson is originally from Baton Rouge. After earning his BFA from ULL, he began to embed himself in the scene Downtown, and within a few months, he was curating the socially-minded exhibition Revolution No. 63 with co-curator Lillian Aguinaga. The exhibition highlighted the ever-expanding bike culture of Lafayette, along with its street culture. Their prescience in holding the exhibition in the newly opened, local apparel/print shop Parish Ink didn’t go unnoticed, either. Revolution No. 63 was the perfect polygamous marriage between art, social activism and commerce.
Wilson has moved on from Revolution No.63, as his current work at the ACA attests, but he certainly has not left the street. Wilson has installed a monumental mural in the Mallia Galleria atop the ACA’s lobby that rocks, hums, vibrates and pulses with youthful excess and bravado, while remaining wise and skillful. In Bullwinkle and Hammerhead, comic book precision and urgent graffiti meet Hindu mythology, H.P. Lovecraft, punk rock, abstract expressionism, death, violence and Wilson’s own childhood. The mural is a gorgeously baroque labyrinth of sharply drawn, undulating Gods wielding weapons and musical instruments among phrases such as “Die! Die!,” I am becoming death,” “liquid courage,” and “XXX.” Red and yellow acrylics burst forth from the images and spill down the wall. Wilson managed to create a mural that is both a beautiful dream and a psychotic nightmare drawn from the pieces of his life. For instance, Wilson admitted that the title of the piece comes from the nicknames his grandfather used to address Wilson and his cousin when they were children. Altogether, the mural exudes a sense of primal rebellion tempered by a transcendental awareness of the absurdity of rebellion itself in the face of time and its repetitive cycles.
Directly under Wilson’s mural in the ACA’a Coca-Cola Studio is the exhibition Now Streaming, showcasing the assemblages and hybrid performance sculptures of Patrick Segura. As with Wilson, Segura hit the ground running after his graduation from ULL last year with his first post-grad exhibition at the now-defunct Gallery at the Grant (He showed his work there with Thomas Deaton, another extremely promising recent graduate of ULL who is currently in the ACA exhibition “Lost and Found: Louisiana’s Landscape Revisited) and an inclusion in the contemporary sculpture exhibition Red-headed Stepchild at the Homespace Gallery in NOLA’s St. Claude Arts District. Segura specializes in sculptures that bridge the gap between the personal and the private, by conflating the subject of contemporary technology with craft, domesticity and the familial. Various, colorful yarns, fabrics, sequins, a velvet curtain, terrycloth towels, a boy scout uniform and even a bridal gown collide with keyboards, computer screens, sockets, wires and electrical cords in Segura’s beautifully challenging assemblages.
For Now Streaming, the artist has upped the ante in his work by incorporating live performance into three of his ever-evolving assemblages. For the past two Artwalk evenings, volunteers have crawled into three of Segura’s sculptures to take cell phone pictures of the audience appreciating the works (the pictures then were uploaded to the internet) or play the ubiquitous musical note that accompanies computer updates on a keyboard while being swallowed by a continuously updating Facebook page. The energy of the exhibition can make one giddy, and the feminine wiles of each piece lulls one into a realm of warm, motherly bliss. Yet, there is something ominous and sublime at play in the work as well. Allusions to the body are stripped of individual personality and subsumed by all the domestic digitalia. It is work that speaks of surveillance, capitulation, anonymity and virtual obliteration as well as how technology is shaping humanity in its image. It is as if the duplicitous CEO/oligarch/matriarch “Mom” from the television series Futurama decided to try her hand at sculpture. Segura’s vision comes on warm, but is ultimately chilling when one realizes the implications of the work.
Together, Wilson and Segura have played a huge part in making the past two months of exhibitions at the ACA profoundly exciting and rewarding. Unfortunately, their work won’t be up for much longer. Their works are coming down this week. If you haven’t seen their works in person, I would suggest taking a visit to the Acadiana Center for the Arts as soon as possible. Five to ten years from now, you’ll thank me for this advice when you’ll be able to say ” I knew them when they were fresh out of college!” These two, along with Thomas Deaton, are on the verge of great things. I promise!