Many artists are thrown off by the idea of a museum survey but few have turned that sensation to their advantage as well as Amanda Ross-Ho. In an obsessively self-conscious way, she has made her life as an artist the very subject of her small exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Pacific Design Center. You might not catch on as you first look around the galleries with their assortment of vertical white panels, variously bearing smudges of paint, photographs, hand-written comments, occasional objects such as a pair of cloth gloves or a thin gold chain. Taken together, these panels comprise the square footage of her actual studio. They were constructed and then brought into her studio where her daily activities were recorded with both methodical precision and complete abandon. On them, she made random colored marks, silk-screened images, attached objects and photographs with potent personal resonance. Her fascination with craft and instructional manuals contributed to her selections.
Amanda Ross-Ho: Omega, 2012
On the second floor of the museum, there stands a photographic enlarger, itself enlarged four times its original size. Titled Omega, after the projector's maker, that word is also the last letter of the Greek alphabet, signifying conclusion. It was copied from the enlarger used by her photographer parents and by herself as a young artist. Among the other enlarged objects is B&W, an enormous black smock over a white shirt mounted on one of the large white panels and referring to black and white photography. Jugs of black paint are placed on the steps leading to this gallery, alluding to the stop bath used in developing photographs. Changes in the medium of photography paralleled Ross-Ho's maturation as an artist and provided rich opportunities for analogies.
Amanda Ross-Ho: B&W, 2012
And her origins as an artist began early. There are two giant color reproductions of paintings that Ross-Ho executed while only a child. The diverse panels in this show refer to memories and to the passing of time in a way that could have resonance for any viewer. Yet, as an artist under the influence of critical theory, Ross-Ho painstakingly parsed her past in order to analyze and recalibrate how it affects her in the present. The titular teeny tiny woman has big ideas.
This challenging yet engaging exhibition was organized by MoCA associate curator Rebecca Morse and continues through September 23. For more information, go to MoCA.org.
Banner image: Installation view of Amanda Ross-Ho at MoCA Pacific Design Center