This Week from Lisa Congdon: Binding Constant

by Lisa Congdon


This week I wanted to share with you some of the work that is on display in the gallery at my shop in San Francisco, Rare Device . Curating the gallery has to be one of the favorite things that I do in my life; and this current show is one of the favorite shows I've ever curated. While I've known of and loved the work of Diem Chau and Lisa Solomon for several years, I discovered the work of Marina Luz only 6 months ago. I was at a live drawing event and watched her draw some the hands for which she is so well known. The next day, a lightbulb went off in my head: I had to curate a show that married the work of Diem Chau , Lisa Solomon and Marina Luz . Six months later, my dream has come to fruition.

Diem, Marina and Lisa named their show Binding Constant. In Binding Constant, they explore the visible and invisible bonds we share based on relationship or causal connection.

Diem admires Marina's work, which sits next to her own in the gallery.

A Vietnam native, Diem Chau and her family came to America as refugees in 1986. In her work, Diem combines common mediums and common means to create delicate vignettes of fleeting memory, gesture and form, resulting in works that combine egalitarian sensibility and minimalist restraint. Her work touches on the value of storytelling and myths and their ability to connect us to each other through cultural and humanistic similarities. Diem’s current work drifts into new territory by exploring the periphery of the narrative, moments forgotten and faded, or too brief to retain.


Diem hand stitches thread onto transparent silk organza and then covers porcelain and ceramic plates, teacups and salt dishes.


About her work she says: “I consider myself an artist whose medium is stories, especially those passed on from grandmother to mothers, from father to sons. Coming from a nomadic childhood, what few possessions we had were of necessities. Among that our greatest value laid in the stories contributed to us by friends and family. Embedded within them are connections to our past, our culture and an occasional escape from reality. I’ve spent countless hours gathering memories and pieces of different cultures by listening to their stories. I waited with childlike anticipation and delight on each teller’s words. I believe it’s my time to be the storyteller and to evoke the same delight and anticipation from my audience. Each story is a journey that gives us greater understanding of our past and our culture. Each story is a thread that connects us to each other, the storyteller holding one end and the audience the other. “


Marina Luz is an artist and designer based in Oakland, California. She is especially interested in using the dualities of drawing and painting to walk a fine line between the impulse toward expressive clarity and the (usually stronger) desire to obscure. She also runs her own letterpress printing company, HONEYLUX , where she attempts to merge fine art and correspondence.


Marina uses housepaint, acrylic and ink on wood panels.


About the body of work Marina has contributed to Binding Constant, she says, “Estate laws offering protection to renters or buyers is usually a clause stating that any homicides that have taken place in the house must be disclosed. Mold and termites have a lingering, physical detrimental quality on a structure, but the requirement to disclose a violent death is a purely emotional construct. To what extent do we suppose a house or a structure to retain a ‘memory’ of a violent act? In these paintings, the houses depicted are sites of terrible, serial murders. The details of those killings, the different countries they are in, are unimportant. The experiment is to see if a building can retain (and communicate) any sense of the horrible events therein, or whether they remain, in fact, mere anonymous structures.”


Lisa Solomon grew up in Los Angeles before heading to Northern California to go to UC Berkeley. The daughter of a Japanese mother and Caucasian father, Lisa believes that this cross-pollination of cultures has profoundly influenced how she interacts with the world. Lisa currently lives in Oakland California with her husband, daughter, two dogs and two cats. She loves to sit in her sunny yard and grow flowers and good things to eat. Lisa’s work has been shown widely and with high acclaim in the national and international art scene since 1995.


For the Binding Constant show, Lisa painted, drew and hand embroidered on canvas.


About her contributions to Binding Constant Lisa says: “My grandfather passed away in July 2006, and my grandmother in October of last year. Apart from my parents no two people had a more profound influence on me growing up. Their personalities, quirks, likes, dislikes were woven into my life in such a seamless way. In many ways I owe my artwork to them. One of the functions of making art is acknowledging the past – connecting with and seeking to understand the nostalgic. These pieces are about what I remember of my grandparents as a child. What they wore, what they drove, what they played, where cancer invaded their lungs. Although they are highly personal there is, I hope, an intrinsically universal appeal to them. I’m sure there are people who have their own memories or associations with whisks, pliers, track suits, and American Matzo. These are just pieces of his and her story.”


Binding Constant will be on display at the Rare Device Gallery until November 1. You can view all of the work and purchase it online here .

Jan Halvarson


Kickcan & Conkers said...

Beautiful post - thank you!

monkeyandsquirrel said...

wow... these are all incredible!

lisa solomon said...

i'm so glad you put us together lisa.... it's been such a treat to be a part of this show