Saturday, April 7, 2018

Priscilla Dobler’s ‘La Sala’ at Feast Art Center

by Alec Clayton
Published in the Weekly Volcano, April 5, 2018

 installation shot of Priscilla Dobler’s La Sala, photo by Gabi Clayton

La Sala is Spanish for “living room,” and Priscilla Dobler’s installation by that name at Feast Art Center is a conceptual environment that questions how a person’s living room affects their life — turning on its head the concept that we affect the spaces in which we live. After all, we choose the furnishings, the colors, and what goes on the walls of our living rooms. But we live in those rooms day in and day out, so our living rooms affect us as well as we affect them. To some people this might be nothing more than a mind game, but in the hands of an artist it can be intellectually stimulating and beautiful.
This installation investigates how architectural spaces represent gender roles and cultural structures. In it, Dobler has constructed a room with a couch, a chair, tables, and artwork hanging on the walls, all built with wood frames upon which she weaves layers of colorful thread. The furniture is a boxy kind of reductive sculpture. The “paintings” on the wall are simple scrims of overlapping lines of thread that hang a foot or two from the walls. Three of them are traditional rectangular frames, and two are oddly shaped.
The most interesting thing about the paintings and the furniture is that the colors change depending on your point of view, and changes of position can create an effect similar to moiré patterns as you move about the space. For example, one piece of furniture has a web of blue threads with a few inches beneath it a web of red threads. Depending on the viewer’s position in the room, it looks blue, or it might look red, or the red and blue threads might blend together to make purple. Furthermore, since everything is see-through, viewers can see patterns upon patterns upon patterns as they move about.
Added to all this, there is a video projection through one of the “paintings” onto the back wall, with local people sitting in their own living rooms and talking about their perceptions of their environment. Over the past few months, Dobler has been interviewing individuals in Tacoma about their perceptions of how their identity has been shaped based on the political and social structure of identity in society and in private/public spaces. Apparently the film is an ongoing project, because there is an announcement on the gallery wall asking for volunteers to be filmed. Similar versions of the installation have been presented in galleries in Seattle, and others are planned for the near future.
Dobler’s La Sala is a quiet and unobtrusive installation that demands attention and thought. If you enter the gallery expecting to be delighted or entertained, you might be disappointed. But if you go in willing to look and listen with an open mind, your mind just might be expanded.
La Sala, installation by Priscilla Dobler, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, and by appointment, through April 14, Feast Arts Center, 1402 S. 11th St., Tacoma, 

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