Clarissa Tossin: to take root among the stars
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, WA - To Jan 7, 2024
This solo show, her first on the West Coast, features thought-provoking examples of multidisciplinary artist Clarissa Tossin’s sculpture, weaving, drawing, 3-D printed instruments and film works, including newly completed pieces as well as significant work developed over the past decade. To take root among the stars, a phrase borrowed from Octavia Butler’s science fiction novels, suggests that Tossin has a particular preoccupation with Earth’s ecological destruction and our inability to live within our means.
Her Future Geography weaving series (2021-ongoing) goes even further. Inspired by traditional Amazonian weaving practices, these works look at the imminent destruction of interstellar places for the purposes of resource extraction. For example, Future Geography: Cosmic Cliffs (2023), commissioned by the Frye Art Museum, combines strips of Amazon.com shipping boxes with images from the James Webb Space Telescope.
Born in Porte Alegre, Brazil, Tossin has been based in Los Angeles since 2006, when she arrived to pursue an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. She has exhibited widely across the United States and has work in several public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art. Known for her collaborative, research-focused practice, Tossin explores concerns related to consumerism, exploitation, cultural appropriation, colonialism and climate change.
Most notably, Tossin’s recent film Mojo’q che b’ixan ri ixkanulab’ / Antes de que los volcanes canten / Before the Volcanoes Sing, commissioned by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, is being presented. Informed by research into Frank Lloyd Wright’s appropriation of ancient Mayan architectural designs during the Mayan Revival as well as Tossin’s discovery and replication of pre-Columbian Mayan wind instruments held by Western museums, this film gives space and voice to diverse aspects of Mayan culture.