GLENDALE, CA - Carlos Beltran-Arechiga, Nicholette Kominos, Melissa Manfull, Kristan Marvell and Sonja Schenk challenge an evolution of perception in the new exhibition “Gravitas” opening at the Brand Library & Art Center on June 25th, 2016.
Working in various mediums: painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, the artists are able to create work that upon first viewing, appears to have the physicality of weight; of gravity. Concrete blocks, monolithic forms, sturdy structures, complex constructions and yet upon further reflection, the viewer is led to question the tangibility of the fabrications in front of them. Encouraged to move beyond aesthetic beauty, the question of intent arises and a search for meaning and interpretation begins. In short, the viewer is challenged to evolve their perception. 
The etymology of the word gravitas holds an inverse path to the artwork presented.  The original definition of the word started in the figurative; full of interpretation and impression. It was something someone could hold in the air of their manner, yet could not hold in their hands and feel. The introduction of Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation changed our perception of the word and the “weight” that gravitas once held now bears the conviction of an unchangeable Universal Law - Gravity. In paradox, it is precisely through the substantive quality of the art that an evolution of perception is inspired, leading to the immaterial; leading to “Gravitas”.
Sonja Schenk’s artwork is about the intersection of humankind and the natural world and the idea of transformation in the context of geologic time. Her vision of once inhabited landscapes carry a surface stillness that belie a history of violence, like the thin crust of the earth or the slender skin of civilization. In the aftermath of civilization’s decline Schenk envisions new landmasses, once tethered by gravity, now set afloat in a world were delicate weightlessness prevails. Schenk’s worlds have been realized through an extensive survey of existing landscapes, manmade materials and unnatural growth specific to the geography of Los Angeles. By referencing actual formations Schenk invites viewers to stop and consider how the ruins of our existence might appear to future civilizations. Even now, we are all just floating in space.

"Empire" (installation view) 2016, 108" x 72" oil and acrylic on canvas, wood tape

"None/Nocturnes" (installation view) 2016, 96" x 60" oil and acrylic on canvas

"New Mountain" installation view 2016, 48" x 60" oil and acrylic on canvas

"Empire" - installation view at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, CA

"Empire" (detail) 2016, 108" x 72" oil and acrylic on canvas, wood tape