Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

Slanguage combines bold art, edge and heritage in “Call and Response, When We Say … You Say”

Over 50 attendees gathered at the Long Beach State University Art Museum Sunday for the latest exhibit, Call and Response, When We Say…You Say,” a multi-phase project that combines “pop culture and high art” to create interactions between the audience, the art and artists.

After a brief call and response discussion, art curated by California State University, Los Angeles alumna Karla Diaz and University of California Irvine alumnus Mario Ybarra Jr. was released to the public.  

Diaz and Ybarra Jr. are co-founders of Slanguage, a group of artists based in Wilmington that “emphasizes community building, education and interactive art exhibitions,” according to the group’s website.

The name, “Slanguage,” came from the idea of a new street language inspired by street inventions and performances. What started out as a former storefront to a bakery shop slowly grew into a studio and eventually, a place of public engagement. The artist-run space has helped pave a way for not only upcoming artists, but for youth and the community, as stated in the museum.

“It was important, and at the heart of what we do at ‘Slanguage,’ to be able to understand and bring about conversations and redefine art in education,” Diaz said.

Torrance resident Alonso Garkhan is one of the many artists featured in the exhibit, with his mask pieces such as “Block” and “Moth Eater.” Both combatant style pieces are made of leather and thread, stitched by hand to combine reused materials including metal pipe and wood.

“The point was to prove to myself that I could make something from scratch,” Garkhan said. “My inspiration came from indigenous and African tribes with a military influence.”

There is also a classroom set up for attendees and artists to utilize for dialogue. Guests can also look forward to “Pour Qui?”, a neon and plexiglass piece by Piotr Kowalski and Andy Warhol’s screen print, “Sitting Bull A70.”

While Ybarra Jr. was unable to attend the opening, he developed the three-step art focus for the latest exhibit that emphasizes love, time and access.

“Love is the source of our practice and what we do. We need time to think about our ideas and time to make them work,” Diaz said, speaking on Ybarra’s behalf. “And access is so important on so many different levels, especially access to conversation.”

Because it is a multi-phase project, both curators are still finishing their pieces. Guests can expect to see them added to the gallery in early February, according to Diaz.

The UAM Artist Tour will take place Feb. 12 from noon to 1 p.m. and the exhibition will be open through April 14.

Watch our video coverage here!

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