LA Arts: LAUNCH Gallery Presents Have to Hold, Curated by Elizabeth Tinglof and Ashley Hagen

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Have to Hold is an exhibition where six contemporary artists reflect upon the rich yet charged history and psychology of collecting. Participating artists include Vida Liu, Constance Mallinson, Kristen Morgin, Kimberly Morris, Ephraim Puusemp and George Stoll.

The act of collecting through a contemporary process has many facets, it can be a quest of discovery, give purpose, be a form of expression, identity, a rite of passage, commerce, a compulsion but it can also be a cultural theft.

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This collecting of cultures through the removal of art and artifacts from their origins became prevalent during the Enlightenment age where among many of their ideates was the questioning of accepted societal values. Unfortunately, in their pursuit and exploration of liberation from ignorance and superstition they created a decontextualization of objects they removed and displayed for educational purposes.

We see today in museums across the world the wide spread effect of the object having a story that is curated, changing its original purpose and context.

Through the artists own use of objects and materials, they construct stories of experiences and conceptual perspectives, addressing both the past and future.

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Molly, 88 Years Old / Painting: Oil and mixed on Canvas, mounted on panel / 36 in. x 36 in. / 2017 Handmade frame: wood, mardi gras beads, fabrics, acrylic; 42 in. x 42 in.


Vida Liu's multimedia work addresses addiction and excessive consumption. Connections among consumers, desired objects, functionality, practicality, and aesthetic values inform her installations, drawings and paintings. By considering the neuropsychological aspects of shopaholics and hoarders, her work exploits the role of consumer goods as validating surrogates that provide a temporary sense of belonging, community, and fulfillment.  

Ms. Liu is a Los Angeles based artist and art-educator. She grew up in Hong Kong and Vancouver. Currently she is practicing and teaching arts in Los Angeles. After graduating from USC with a Business Administration degree, Liu worked in the financial industry for many years. Motivated by an irrepressible passion for arts, she later returned to school and received a B.A. in Studio Arts from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine. Liu subsequently received her MFA degree from the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication at California State University, Northridge, and has been an adjunct faculty since 2015.

Still Life in a Landscape / 14' x 56" / oil on canvas / 2018 *cropped


The discarded contents found on city streets are not often associated with the sublime, but in Constance Mallinson's paintings, the manufactured and natural detritus are rendered at a disturbing scale. Depicting a fantastical assortment of decaying plant material and post-consumer items collected on her daily walks through Los Angeles, Mallison deftly interweaves these found objects in mountainous accumulations offset by darkened backgrounds and glimpses of earth to suggest trash dumps, ocean gyres, and clogged urban alleyways.

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Ms. Mallinson is a Los Angeles based painter, writer and curator. She has exhibited widely and her paintings are included in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The San Jose Museum, and the Pomona Art Museum, the National Academy of Sciences. She has taught all aspects of studio art and criticism at the major colleges and universities in Southern California including Claremont graduate School, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Otis College of Art, ArtCenter and the California State Universities.

Lovetaker / Unfired clay, paint, ink / 12" x 12" x 1/4" / 2020.


"Objects have in them the histories of the people who owned them. That juju stays with objects. I am interested in recreating objects and their juju. Initially, when I began making my personal books, toys, and brick-a-brack I think I wanted to see what it would look like. I wanted it to be apparent that these were things that I made and that they were made out of clay. Over time, I have become more interested in recreating objects as precisely as I can. I find that this attention to minute details is a kind of homage to the original objects. I am interested in making cast off objects from estate sales, brick-a-brac, used books and records as well as unremarkable objects like bits of cardboard, pencil stubs, used paint cans and pieces of scrap plywood. I have found that crafting these objects skillfully and carefully gives them a value that they wouldn't otherwise have."

Ms. Morgin was born in 1968 in Brunswick, GA. She is the eldest daughter of Lowell and Lucille Morgin. She has three younger sisters. Ms. Morgin earned a BA degree from California State University, Hayward. She earned a MFA degree with an emphasis in ceramics from Alfred University in 1997. Ms. Morgin has held job positions as a gallery docent, a children's playhouse set painter, a secretary in an auto glass shop, and as an associate professor of art. She has held teaching positions at California State University, Long Beach, University of Georgia, California State University, Northridge and the University of California Los Angeles. She earns her living as an artist sometimes and teaching other times. Her artwork has been widely exhibited both domestically and internationally. Her artwork is in many private collections as well as the permanent collections of SFMOMA, the Hammer Museum, the Orange County Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She currently resides in Gardena, California.

Elevation / 9"x 19" / Synthetic Hair and found object / 2020


"What is beauty, what is beautiful to the world I live in today? Being a multi-ethnic individual of Creole heritage has played an enormous role in the way I view the world around me. I am of African and European decent; this greatly influences the way I experience society. Through the lens of beauty, I examine my position in the diaspora. The pressure of fitting into what majority culture defines as normal, neater hair and constrictive body type casting dictate my daily routine. Tangled in a mixture of black and white are the constant changes in trends and standards layered onto the historical weight of my skin. Black bodies and culture is heavily commodified, bought and sold since our arrival to American shores. I am questioning the judgment that is placed on not only me but on those who navigate the world with this same burden. For the majority of black people hair has become a racial identifier, which speaks for us before we have an opportunity to speak for ourselves. In thinking about my own hair and my existence within the diaspora I often reflect on how my culture influences my perspective. These works are physical manifestations of the trauma that I have collected over the years."

Ms. Morris as born in West Los Angeles, California and grew up in Leimert Park, CA. Her rich Creole heritage has been a major influence on her work. Kimberly critiques self-identity, ideas of beauty, popular culture, and race in America via video, sculpture, photography, and painting. She inserts herself into her work by casting her own body, using her hair, and portraiture—all forms struggling with the constraining expectations society imposes on women of color. Kimberly received both her BA and MA from California State University Northridge and her MFA from California State University Long Beach.

SEPULTURE/SCULPTURE III / Birch plywood, wood glue / 33" x 33" x 12"


"The SEPULTURE/SCULPTURE series came out of pure experimentation and play. I had introduced my son to the skeletal dinosaur models made of plywood that I played with as a kid. We had many sets and would often partially build one only to throw it incompleted into a box full of parts from mixed sets. We began experimenting with the possibilities of mixing parts, building biomorphic and geometric forms. By introducing custom cut circular pieces to act as central axial junctions, the complex geometry could be pushed further allowing infinite construction possibilities. These works come from my lifelong interest in the natural sciences. They resemble organic microscopic structures as well as the strange sculptural ossuaries made of human bones found in the Czech Republic."

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Ephraim Puusemp (born 1976, Salt Lake City, UT) is an artist living and working in Los Angeles. His multidisciplinary practice often explores intersections between Art and Science. Since graduating from UCLA's MFA program in 2007 his work has been shown widely in California, most recently in a solo show Ephraim Puusemp: Receding Horizon at DENK gallery in Los Angeles, 2019.

Untitled (15 tumblers on a 36 inch shelf #3) / 8 3/4 x 36 x 7in. / beeswax, paraffin and pigment on a painted wooden shelf


"I consider Tupperware a fascinating window into the American domestic landscape. The company began marketing in1948 and I collected examples from second hand stores for a few years in the early 90s. By recasting the, nearly indestructible, plastic originals into fragile wax, my goal was to reconsider Tupperware's function. Over the years, as I have periodically revisited Tupperware as a subject, my focus has developed into a way for me to reconsider the colors of our collective memories." 

"In the 1980s, I worked as an art director and costume designer for theatre and film. Through this, and by simply living in New York and Los Angeles, I was introduced to many people. I stopped pursuing this line of work in the early 90s but in 1998 I wrote a list poem of these introductions. I called it "Some people I've met who probably don't remember me." One of the things that interested me was the social imbalance implicit in making this kind of list, another was my own obscurity in the shadow of their fame. By employing a device I like to use: chance groupings and random selection, I was able to cast them together because they had at least one thing in common, forgetting meeting me. The subjects I am usually drawn to are household objects, in this case, the subjects are household names."

"In 2000 I was able to have the poem woven into cotton jacquard fabric in the colors of newsprint. Since 2003, I have offered this ottoman as a limited edition multiple. In the many years since the writing of this poem, many people on the list have lost or gained prominence, some have died, but they were all alive and well known in 1998."

Mr. Stoll is a sculptor who lives and works in Los Angeles. He has been showing his work internationally since 1994. His bio, resume and images of his work are at

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