Artists: Dalia Bañuelos & Daniel Bonilla-Vera
Media: Fiber, Photography, Sculpture
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Merlino Gallery
Instagrams: @daliaeffect @dbvqp
About the Artists
Dalia Bañuelos and Daniel Bonilla-Vera are both art students at CSULB who have been rejected by the photography program, Dalia twice and Daniel once. Daniel is currently reapplying to get into the photography program, whereas Dalia has now moved into studio art as an undergraduate student. Dalia is from a community college in Los Angeles, where she studied art history and design art, whereas Daniel comes to CSULB from the College of the Sequoias. Dalia was looking to collaborate with classmates who had also been rejected from the photography program, which led to her and Daniel meeting, and the creation of “Infraction.”
The artists use fiber, photography, and sculpture to create “Infraction,” a room of photos and abstract paintings connected by black rope. The abstract paintings have white backgrounds with what looks like watercolor painting in the color black. One of the watercolor paintings on the right side of the room, where these are located, is out of its fiber frame and hanging loosely from the bottom left corner. As we get more to the center, there are two black and white photographs of leafless trees. In the far-end center of the room there is a web of black fiber strings that take up the space. There are some photos and paintings being held up by them, while others are placed on the walls that the fiber strings cover. Some are photos of people, others are of objects, and some are the same abstract watercolor paintings on the right wall. There is one sculpture in the far left corner of the room, dressed in a purple sweater and grey sweatpants. This one is curled up next to an issue of the Union Weekly with the words “Failure to Launch” on the cover. In the center, lighted to stand out, is a sculpture of a person in the fetal position, clothed in a black and white stripped sweater. On the left side of the room, there are paintings are environments, such as a rocky wall that looks like it has barnacles, the side of a mountain, and a herd of birds flying in an oddly colored sky. In the left corner of the room towards the entrance, which is covered in by black curtains, is a trash can with composition books, photographs, and the roll of yarn that the string in the room comes from.
This was conceived as a response to the rejection that the artists faced from the BFA photography program. The two sculpted figures in the center of the room represent the reactions that one would have to rejection, and may very well have been how the artists themselves reacted. The artists’ statement says that they view the gallery as a “space stands as a place to glorify the achievements from the select individuals who were graciously chosen to adorn the space with their trophies.” Their goal was to create the display in a confusing way so that the viewers could understand the confusion they felt as they read their rejection letters. They may not have understood why they were rejected, but they did know that they were rejected. The goal of the unconventional, web-like layout of the exhibit is to get viewers to go into the same contemplative state that they were in as they tried to understand their situation. The photographs and paintings themselves are similar. They present their subject as without any added explanation. The viewer gets to view their work and determine what they think they mean.
Synthesis / My Experience
I felt stunned by the exhibit at first, as I was not sure how to react to it. Upon looking at the photos on the walls, I felt like I was supposed to confused. I enjoyed the exhibit’s use of fiber strings as it felt like it wanted you to start wherever you chose and then follow along, almost as if you were trying to piece a puzzle together. The room was laid out in a way that added an eerie feeling as I walked towards the back. Upon arriving at the sculptures towards the back of the room, I felt confused. The horror fan in me was expecting one of the sculptures to slowly look up and launch itself at me. I was obviously happy that it did not. I felt like the photos and paintings displayed in the room were set up like a physical portfolio of the artists’ work, put together as a response to their rejection aimed to show the world the talent that they have and others miss out on when rejecting them.