As a founding member of several Los Angeles feminist art organizations, Merion Estes has made a name for herself putting art out there that comments upon contemporary social issues. Estes has been involved in groups such as Womanspace and the feminist arts group, "Double X," along with artists Judy Chicago, Nancy Buchanan, Faith Wilding, and Nancy Youdelman. Estes was also a pioneer of the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 70s and 80s; a movement which challenged the male Western domination of art and blurred the lines between art and design.
This autumn, the Craft & Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles will present a twenty-year survey of Estes and her work: Merion Estes: Unnatural Disaster. On display in this exhibition will be twenty large-scale collaged paintings made with found fabrics, mixed paint applications, and photo transfers to create rich, colourful landscapes that are simultaneously beautiful and disturbing. The pieces delve into a variety of themes that are deeply relevant to our contemporary era, including climate change, species extinction, pollution, and other natural and manmade disasters. A complement of smaller sculptures will accompany the paintings.
Some of Estes' paintings reference major natural and manmade disasters that took place within the last twenty years, such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 in Japan. Record-breaking heatwaves and manmade climate change also make an appearance in the painting Cooling Trend, while several other paintings explore the issue of marine pollution, chemical spills, and industrial waste.
Merion Estes: Unnatural Disasters is on view from September 30, 2018 to January 6, 2019.
Blog post by Jessica Edney