Whitehot Magazine

Galia Linn Studio Visit: An Imperfect Vessel

Galia Linn in her studio with the grouping of sculptures titled "18"


By GARY BREWER, August 2023

To express your emotions, you have to be very loose and receptive. The unconscious will come to you if you have that gift that artists have. I only know if I’m inspired by the results.”                                                                                                                                  

-- Louise Bourgeois

Galia Linn’s spacious studio was previously a church in South Central Los Angeles. She said that ritual space is important to her in life and as an artist, and that there is a special feeling that she experiences in this former sanctuary. Her monumental ceramic sculptures are placed throughout the studio; they exude the power of organic geological forces and suggest artifacts from antiquity. Their presence is felt physically, mass and volume expanding outward, buckling and fracturing, while within, there is a protected womb-like space, a place for the spirit to inhabit.

Linn said of her practice as an artist that she is a ‘place maker’ and in her sculptures, paintings, installations; the exhibitions she curates, and the creative space she has made, this idea is expressed in a multitude of forms. Her studio, Blue Roof Studios, is also a gallery. A Room of One’s Own is an artist’s residency, and Arts at Blue Roof Studios is a non-profit with art studios and a performance/event space. She is creating a place for artists to find support and mentorship. It is an act of generosity, but even more so, a quest to create community: a space where the practice of art is a way of life. A practice that is driven by a spiritual curiosity and a need to create work that expresses our deep human desire to connect with one another.

I asked her about her art, what ideas shape her work and her ethos. 

She answered with a question. 

“Where do you think ideas come from? Do they come from within or do they exist in the world? I believe that ideas exist in the world; that they are floating around looking for the right collaborator. As artists, we need to become open and vulnerable, still and quiet. When we listen, empty ourselves out and allow ourselves to become a vessel, these ideas chose us. They find the right creative soul who can convey a story through their own individual nature. Our personal history, ancestral background and DNA shape us and make us unique mediums to express a particular story.”


Galia Linn- work in progress, Beach Ball series

In Linn’s powerful sculptures, we feel the earth, its molten core shape-shifting in subduction zones of the human spirit. These are ancient vessels, seedpods, wombs, metamorphic rock, and creatures, whose limbs and features are fractured and warped through the heat of fire: Vulcan’s forge molding clay into animate beings.

I asked Linn about the cracks and warping in her work. I used the term ‘happy accidents’, a phrase that conveys the unexpected but fortunate outcomes of unintended results. 

“Why do you think of them as accidents? Clay has a memory. It buckles and pulls away in the fire and tries to return to its former shape. This process is something that I embrace. Who we are, is in part, a result of the scars and injuries we have endured in our life. Our character is formed through these painful experiences. In my work, imperfection is a philosophical statement. It is how the world is and how we are made.”

Linn was born and raised in Israel. Living in the presence of the ancient world had an impact on her feeling for material. The forms that she creates often harkens back to the ceramic containers found in historical sites in the Middle East. The anxiety and fear she experienced from the constant tension and conflict in the region had a deep effect on her while growing up. She studied architecture and later moved to the United States in her twenties. After years of drawing plans and designs, she decided that this was not what she wanted out of her life. She enrolled at the Otis College of Art and Design continued education program and studied metal sculpture. During that time, she saw the ceramic sculpture of Peter Voulkos, which had a huge influence on her path.

“I was moved by the powerful physicality; the scale and weight of his work. The way that he warped, tore and forced holes into the clay, and the sheer muscular energy of his sculpture, that’s what I wanted to do. It freed me to think of clay as a structural material stretching it and making the sculpture larger and more monumental.”

A grouping of large vessels and two human-scale sculptures were assembled together in her studio. Though they have been exhibited as individual pieces in the past, these works will be shown as an installation titled 18, in an upcoming solo exhibition/survey of her work at MOAH (Museum of Art and History) in Lancaster, CA, opening in early 2024.

Each of the individual pieces is built in a bold and loose approach. Indeed, the works in a sense convey a record of their own making. Linn’s hand can clearly be seen; her fingers shaping the form, passages of clay pushed and kneaded into organic shapes. Glazes are poured on and add a volcanic, geological patina to the surface. The colors suggest the blood red of iron, the cracked surface of a dried lakebed, dried salt flats, the dark gunmetal color of basalt, or the blackened desert patina of rock surfaces baked in unrelenting heat. Here and there are splotches of brighter colors that resemble lichens growing on boulders.  Holes become eyes and mouths or suggest a fissure where a seedpod burst open. Within each vessel, bits and pieces of clay, remnants from her making, are dropped into the bottom; small serpentine lengths of coil writhe like snakes; small spheres resemble seeds. 

Galia Linn Studio, 2023

In this grouping, there are two human-sized, unglazed sculptures whose zoomorphic aspect gives them an animistic presence. They evoke deities that dance with the trickster, or totems that could be urns for some ancient animal spirit.  These are large natural clay-colored forms adorned on top with playful biomorphic shapes. They suggest breasts, limbs, plants, seeds, rabbit ears, as well as the onion dome of a Russian Orthodox Church. Linn’s hands and fingers can be seen in the heavily worked surfaces. Moving quickly, building with wet heavy coils of clay to form this sculpture, the artist’s physical strength becomes a component in the work's aura. The grouping as a whole is an encounter, the collection of shapes and forms are animate, engaging in a dialogue through the artist’s ability to communicate thoughts and feelings through sculptural form. 

Linn said of the inner space: 

“I want to create a space to celebrate the divine light that exists within each of us. I am a place maker.  My sculptures create sanctuaries that are safe places to tell stories, create rituals and foster community.”

Several pieces in the studio are large spheres, assembled from strips of clay. In a newer piece, Linn is using strips of burlap dipped in hydrocal. There are openings to glimpse the space within, the sculptures suggesting birth, growth, the unfurling of a new cell, planet or universe. From the top sprouts a vertical shape, the shoot of a plant or fungi reaching toward the light or the heavens above. She began this series in 2012 and is revisiting them now. She titled them Beach Balls, in part because she uses inflatable beach balls as an armature to build these sculptures on. The large piece has a ghostly quality, like bleached bones found on a beach. The play of closure and openings of its surface is engaging, a mysterious sphere whose strange aspect entices the mind. It is the unanswerable question, holding our curiosity, but only allowing us to create stories that suggest its meaning. It is a metaphor of our journey, to be given this infinitely complex consciousness and an insatiable curiosity to ponder the unfathomable nature of reality.  

Galia Linn’s sculptural works are powerful. Their bold, physical presence is imbued with a subjective resonance. Within these forms is a place for the spirit, an intimate inner sanctum enveloped within an imperfect vessel. Each crack and fissure is a statement, an expression of the poetics of natural processes. There are no accidents, just an approach to making art that embraces the imperfection of life, and the forces that shape our self and the world.

Galia Linn’s solo exhibition/survey of her work opens in early 2024 at MOAH (Museum of Art and History) in Lancaster, CA.  WM


Gary Brewer

Gary Brewer is a painter, writer and curator working in Los Angeles. His articles have appeared in Hyperallergic, Art and Cake, and ART NOWLA.

Email: garywinstonbrewer@gmail.com 


Website: http://www.garybrewerart.com

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