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A Glimpse Inside the Being + Destroying + Reviving Gallery Opening

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Edited by Gurjot Kang

Ground Zero Radio and Ground Zero Art Collective members with volunteers of Art/Not Terminal Gallery on April 1, 2023. (Photo/GZR Photography)

At the beginning of the month, Ground Zero Radio Art Collective debuted the Art Collective Crew Curation entitled Being + Destroying + Reviving, the cycle of parts that operate the whole. The exhibit features a diverse set of artwork from youth artists, ranging from 14 to 24, encapsulating the theme of cycles and what patterns run through our world.

As one of the curators Kenneth Tran explains, at the center of this theme is different states and the relationships that exist between them.

So we were just looking at how different parts would just as the prompt says, come together in different states into making something else,” said Tran. “We looked at like, how do you use art to depict a process rather than just, you know, one singular thing. So all of these works this year really have that cycle.”

Being + Destroying + Reviving is the second gallery installment from Ground Zero Radio Art Collective and is a stark contrast from its older sibling so to speak.

“Last year, it was more about comfort, this year it's more about existentialism,” said Tran.

Fellow curator Rachel Liu adds that this year’s gallery is more interpretative in comparison to the previous one. “It’s much darker, compared to last year where it was more friendly of ‘oh, how do you belong?’ when compared to this year–reviving, destroying,” said Liu. “I think it really shows our maturity as well. It's a nice progress.”

One of the motives behind introducing a more abstract and interpretive theme was to allow for a broader array of art to be showcased.

“I think it can be taken in a positive light and negatively, and it can be applied to a lot of people's experiences. It's really cool to see all the different interpretations of that theme,” said exhibit curator Zili Qu.

This is something that is definitely reflected as you look around the gallery. Art pieces range from oil on canvas to rotating kinetic wood sculptures, and on first glance the contrast and diversity of them may be a bit disorienting. The various mediums might have you question how they all exist under the same exhibit. But once you take a closer look, you’ll notice that all the pieces share similar themes or messages, just through different forms of expression.

Elvira, Unleash your Demons – Acrylic on Canvas

Unleash your Demons, the work of Elvira, a cyber-sigilism tattoo artist, depicts a jarring image of a demon, chained and screaming with huge protruding teeth. Elvira shared that the piece is about communicating that the longer you keep your demons leashed and bound up, the more they’ll fight to escape.

“So, it's about demons. I really love demons, and I'm sure everyone has them inside. We've been told to hide them, but I like this destructive energy because it actually–it helps you build something, like you create something with it,” said Elvira. “So in that moment, when I was drawing it, I actually felt a lot of pain. The scream that is in the picture is how I felt inside, but I think it's very beautiful. I just think you shouldn't hide this bad energy. You just need to re-transform it into something beautiful like art.”

An interesting twist brought to Elvira’s piece comes in the form of an eye-catching element of hot pink foam displayed in the center of the canvas. According to Elvira, her intention was to juxtapose the color pink, commonly associated with softness, with the harsh subject match of the piece.

“Well, I like pink actually. My work is pretty dark, and it has these dark demons but the slime that is pink is a little bit controversial because I think it’s known that slime should be something unattractive, but this one looks like bubblegum” said Elvira.

As a cyber-sigilism tattoo artist, Elvira also wanted to incorporate elements of that style into her piece. These cyber tribal pieces can be found on the demon’s head, flared in bright lavender purple, almost mimicking hot blue flames. This artistic choice helps depict the demon’s screaming and desire to be unleashed, leaving the viewer feeling a bit haunted but free.

Ria Pacita, I Want to be Planted, Not Buried - Acrylic paint and stamps on wood

On a bright panel of ombre purple and pink colored wood, shines a golden sun with two beaming men and a broken chain that cuts the image in half to reveal two children picking flowers below. Painted within the men are small, gold plants shining through their chests. Throughout the image, gold plant sprouts float down to the children, carried by the wind.

This piece by Ria Pacita, depicts the ‘New Bataan 5,’ a martyred group of indigenous Lumad teachers, community advocates, and healthcare workers, specifically Chad Booc andGelejurain “Jurain” Ngujo II. Pacita says that while the ‘Bataan 5’ were a group of community organizers, they were labeled by the Philippine government as terrorists to dismantle their work. Ultimately while Chad Booc, Jurain, and other members of the Bataan 5’ were murdered by the hands of the Philippine government, Pacita is emphasizing how their message and spirit lives on.

Ria Pacita smiles proudly next to her piece "I Want to be Planted" on April 1, 2023. (Photo/Dev Vasquez).

Pacita’s piece is entitled I Want to be Planted, Not Buried because Chad specifically asked to be planted, not buried when he died.

“And so what that looks like is really returning to the land we belong to and propagating the seeds for the youth, and for their movement for the struggle that they're going to take up,” said Pacita. “In my piece, the seeds that Chad and Jurain are passing along, even though they're soft and gentle, so caring and loving, they are actually the strongest force to break these chains of exploitation, oppression, all of these systemic issues, and really reach the youth who then take that up and continue to plant the seeds.”

Through the themes of nature, community, and solidarity, Pacita wants to convey that we must not be afraid to rise up and resist against oppressive forces.

“I think it really is about something I really want to shed a light on. It’s just really introducing people to the struggle of the Philippines right now, like the ongoing struggle that has been happening for so long, since like the roots of colonization and imperialism,” said Pacita.

Pacita’s piece also evokes the idea of generational cycles and how they shape and connect us.

“We always are constantly going through and reckoning with this connection we find between our ancestors, ourselves, and the youth and how we pass that on,” said Pacita.

In a broader scope, Pacita says when they were making this piece, at the heart of it is community, and it makes it that much rewarding that they get to share it with theirs.

“I think something that I've really been finding in organizing and in art too, because there's so much overlap, is the ability to form deeper connections and really find these bonds,” Pacita tells. “So bringing my family and my friends here was just so incredible, because I got to share with them this piece I made in dedication to them and in dedication to the Bataan 5.”

Angelina “Zili” Qu, Pass Me Down – Mixed Media

Throughout time, we as humans have used intentional possessions such as heirlooms, elaborate portraits, or diaries to document and immortalize our lives. However, artist Angelina “Zili” Qu believes the lifespan of menial objects, especially those unintended for commemoration, can have a greater impact.

Qu’s art piece Pass Me Down, composed of mixed media elements through three separate frames of metal and wood, is connected and entangled together by bright pink braided synthetic hair.

“The inspiration for it was basically the myth that your hair and your nails would keep on growing after you die and you pass on, and I kind of reflected on, you know, the legacy people will leave behind,” said Qu.

Pass Me Down reflects on the idea that without being intentional about curating long lasting belongings to pass down, our legacy is commemorated for us by the casual, unsuspecting things we leave behind. The piece encourages viewers to reflect on the question of what will our loved ones find and make of our legacy when we are no longer here. What would our loved ones think when cleaning out our closets or packing up our rooms perhaps?

“I do a lot of thrift shopping. So I thought about objects and belongings, and how my belongings will come to pass on and take on an identity, and kind of be like a remnant of who I am after I pass,” explained Qu.

By combining both her images and objects with thrifted materials in this piece, Qu emphasizes the inorganic objects we own and dares to ask what life these objects will take after the passing of their owner.

“Part of what made me want to make this piece was that…oh, some of the things we own take a long time to fully, you know, fade away naturally,” said Qu. “Like the wig hair is synthetic; it's going to live hundreds of years older than me. So I wanted people to think about what they own and what they've passed down and what their legacies are, like physical manifestations of, you know, their belongings.”

Miru De Peralta – The Cycle of Death, kinetic wood sculpture

When you first enter the gallery, your eye is instantly transfixed by this particular installation. A wooden skull situated at one end of a round white table, while a circular platform rotates what looks to be another wooden head on top of it. When the skulls approach each other, it looks as if they’re about to collide, but they don’t. The design of the two heads contains segments and slits throughout that allow the two to meet and slide through one another before continuing the cycle again. The figures rotating once more until they’re destined to return.

The Cycle of Death took three months for Peralta to create. “I worked on it for four hours [a day], five days a week, so it was basically like a part-time job,” said Peralta.

The rotating art piece uses three-dimensional forms to comment on different cultural beliefs and how they affect people’s perceptions of the human body in relation to and in conflict with mortality, the inevitable end of life, and the separation of the soul from the body.

Peralta’s piece views the relationship of mortality and conscious existence as two separate entities—connected together as a cycle. The circular platform of the piece represents the cycle of life. The skull symbolizes the idea that even if a person may not be thinking about their own morality, it will always resurface.

“We may live life not wanting to confront our own mortality, but it is always on the same plane of existence and it will always either be at the back of our minds or circling around our subconsciousness,” explained Peralta.

According to Peralta, we can’t realistically escape what makes us human as we will meet mortality many times during our cycle of life in many different circumstances.

“I want people to think about different cycles. We all have them and they will eventually come to an end,” said Peralta. “Whether it’s the death of a pet, maybe just a period/phase of your life, we all experience something and can relate to this idea.”

Cycle of Death invokes the idea that even if we choose to ignore death, it will always be there. For Peralta, our mortality is what makes life precious.

The Being + Destroying + Reviving exhibit will truly have you sit and contemplate some complex, and maybe even uncomfortable, themes. From showcasing the struggles of gender identity and sexual orientation in the piece Holding Myself Back by Hailey Kim to exploring the ideas of rebirth in The Miracle of The Lotus Flower by Miki Safronov-Yamamoto, this exhibit has a beautiful, diverse set of interpretations to offer.

One factor that sets the Being + Destroying + Reviving exhibit apart from others in Seattle is the sense of community woven into every aspect of this curation.

Historically, it’s been very inaccessible to find a welcoming environment and open platform to showcase your art. The curators of this exhibit strive to change that.

Sami Hilario presents their piece "HELD WITH JOY" at the "Being + Destroying + Reviving, the cycle of parts that operate the whole" art exhibit on April 1, 2023. (Photo/Dev Vasquez).

“As part of the art collective, our mission is very much equity in the arts, and how do you create access to the arts. You know, how do you allow people to explore and have like access to this medium,” said curator Tran. “It's really important. So we thought, let's open up. So that's why we're like, oh, we need at least one piece from each artist to be shown in the gallery.”

Co-Curator Zili Qu adds that art is something we all take part in, so we should all have a chance to showcase it.

“I think there's something that's inherently so human about making art, like, it's not necessarily something that's utilitarian, it's just like expression,” shared Qu. “So I think it's really important for us to bring people together, and I thought this was such a cool opportunity, especially for young artists to create whatever they want and have a space to share that.”

It all comes back to this idea of community. Sometimes art can be seen as an elitist pastime where you wander around big cold museums, silent in thought, not engaging with others. This gallery is anything but that.

“This space has just been so welcoming, so warm, and I've just felt so received and held. So as someone, just like as a person, and artists alike that space is so necessary to really foster community,” shared featured artist Pacita.

This sense of shared community and solidarity is ultimately what the curators sought to accomplish with this show.

“Art can be very community driven, like art in itself helps strengthen communities. It can be a way to connect people,” said Tran. “It’s also very powerful in the way that it can be used as a tool for exploration, for communication. For you know, that's kind of like the philosophy around the art collective, like art is powerful…We should encourage art and like open accessibility of the arts to people. That's our idea that drives the art collective.”

The Being + Destroying + Reviving exhibits currently on display at A/NT Artist Cooperative Gallery, located in the Seattle Center International Fountain Pavilion. The exhibit will be running until the end of April.


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