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Santa Barbara Museum of Art presents Martin Kersels Charms

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art announces the installation of nine newly commissioned sculptures from the “Charm” series by renowned artist Martin Kersels. This special installation debuted at the Museum on November 10, 2012 and remains on view for an extended period.

Martin Kersels, Charms (Black Cloud/Green Dog/Little, Little Boy/Red Chair/White House/Silver Clouds), 2012.

Martin Kersels’s Charms incorporate found objects and shapes to form iconic sculptures that hang from the ceiling. The nine sculptures from the series that comprise the installation, Little, Little Boy; Green Dog; Black Cloud; White House; and five Silver Clouds, are suspended from a large ring—like charms on a bracelet. Several sculptures incorporate lighting elements and reflective surfaces which cast light and shadow on the interior walls. The Charms, according to Kersels, project a sense of “comfort and familiarity played against the anxiety-producing images of a bomb amidst silver, alien-like clouds. While there is no specific narrative, they are deliberate and dynamic in their construction and suspension.”

Kersels likens the Charms to how we think of such objects—as “funny and possibly real…even tragic.” The series takes its inspiration from the meanings and implications of the word, which may be best defined as a talisman that embodies a sense of both protection and danger. The ideas inherent in these polar concepts appeal to the artist, as do the way charms are used as a keepsake, a memento, or even as adornment. Such notions also play into the Kersel’s continued exploration of the space between life and the world we live in—the way we navigate pleasure and pain, which can also have both positive and negative effects.

Kersels has been the focus of many significant exhibitions, including Martin Kersels: Heavyweight Champion, a survey of his work in 2007 at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College (traveled to Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2008). He has been included in three Whitney Biennial exhibitions (2010, 2008, and 1997). A selection of notable group exhibitions includes Departures: 11 Artists at the Getty (1999), The Power of Suggestion: Narrative and Notation in Contemporary Drawing at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1996), and La Belle et La Bete: Un Choix de Jeunes Artistes Americains at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1995).

Works by Martin Kersels are in many prominent public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; and others. Kersels was recently appointed Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Sculpture at Yale University in 2012. Prior, he served as a faculty member and Co-Director of the Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts.

The Charms commission and installation at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is made possible through the generous support of the Museum Contemporaries, with additional support provided by the Women’s Board.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art
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