From a young age, Jojo Solo was raised in a family that emphasized the importance of treating animals and the environment with respect and valuing life itself. Solo will not condone the killing of any animal or insect, she believes in the importance of repurposing and reusing items when possible and now lives a vegan lifestyle.
“We’re all going to die and everything is futile,” Solo said. “We should just enjoy what we have. I think about it all the time: trying to make the most of every day.
Now as a fourth-year metal and jewelry bachelor of fine arts major at Long Beach State, Solo explores both life and death through her exhibit “Reap” in the School of Art Galleries on campus.
Centered in the back of the gallery, Solo constructed the frame of a black, life-sized coffin that she encourages people to step in to. This coffin and the many other themes of life and death scattered throughout her exhibit act as her interpretation of “reap what you sow.”
“I just wanted to show that the life that we have is really precious,” Solo said.
Several dead insects, such as three dead bees in her piece “Development and Decline,” are used throughout her artwork. Solo used these bugs — which she did not kill but found dead — in both sculptures and in jewelry and believes that “wearing an animal is like a connection with them.”
Solo not only features real dead animals, but sculpted representations of them as well. In a wall installation featuring nine mutated chicken feet, Solo makes a statement about the nine billion chickens that are consumed each year and the maltreatment they face in the agriculture industry.
Graphic design senior Edgar Trancozo visited Solo’s gallery and enjoyed the themes of life and death because he believed that it didn’t overly romanticize the issues and at the same time it was not scary and instead “very subtle.”
Having recently taken a metal course at LBSU, Trancozo became knowledgeable in the process of metalworks and was impressed with the amount of metal Solo used throughout the exhibit.
“It was really interesting because I didn’t think there would be so much jewelry and metalwork,” Trancozo said. “It’s a lot of hard work.”
Another section surrounding the theme of mortality in Solo’s exhibit is dedicated entirely to marine issues. In this section, Solo created political pieces that addressed oceanic problems such as oil spills in her piece “Oil Slick” and the bycatch of marine animals due to fishing practices in “Bycatch.”
Among her ocean-themed artworks, Solo also created a piece titled “Atlantic Cod” which, as the name suggests, focuses on Atlantic Cod and the issues with overfishing. This piece acts as a call to action to help resolve these issues and it caught the attention of Solo’s classmate Katie McRaven, senior metal BFA major, when she visited the exhibit.
“It definitely made me aware of something that I do,” McRaven said in regards to her consumption of fish, adding that she will not consume Atlantic Cod anymore.
Having known Solo for the past two years, McRaven has watched Solo grow as an artist and appreciates the work she has done both in the classroom and in her exhibit.
“It was beautifully done and I was in awe of how she did he displays,” McRaven said. “Jojo is always growing, there isn’t a time where she isn’t growing.”
After graduation, Solo hopes to create more metal artworks and continue her themes of life and death — both celebrating life, but also appreciating and respecting all of its forms.
“This is the only life that we have,” Solo said.
“Reap” among other student exhibits can be viewed this week Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m.