She’s back! Inga Guzyte has agreed to a second solo exhibition with Sullivan Goss for the months of November and December. In the largest room of the Gallery’s downtown Santa Barbara exhibition space, the artist will show six of her iconic skateboard portraits and a series of sparrow sculptures. This highly-anticipated exhibition follows closely on the heels of the National Gallery’s announcement that Inga’s work was selected for exhibition as part of the 2022 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Out of over 2,700 entries, Guzyte’s sculptural portrait joins just 41 other Finalists next year in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.
For her first solo exhibition with Sullivan Goss in 2019, the artist created a large series of portraits of women she admired. From performance artists to politicians, from activists to musicians, Inga chose the subjects for her laboriously scroll-sawed portraits carefully. At this point, all of the work that will be sold from that exhibition has been sold.
For this exhibition, she has focused on the idea of younger women. The title, Young Sparrows, refers to daughters. Among those set to be venerated are: AMANDA GORMAN, MOMIJI NISHIYA, GRETA THUNBERG, MALALA YOUSAFZAI, and MILLIE BOBBY BROWN.
Inga has also created a portrait of an anonymous young woman that she calls Bacha Posh - Daughter, You Will be my Son to draw people’s attention to the stories of the Bacha Posh of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Families in that part of the world without sons can designate one of their prepubescent daughters as a son in order to help their families with work that girls are not typically permitted to do. Accordingly, Bacha Posh have some freedom of movement. They can dress differently. They are sometimes allowed to be educated. That they must return to being girls when they enter puberty and that some of them fight to retain freedom of movement or the right to an education inspired the artist to highlight their stories and celebrate their courage.
All of these portraits show these heroic young women among flowers and other natural forms like oak leaves, gladiolas, the flowers of the saffron crocus, daffodils, and tulips. These beautiful shapes not only adorn the women, they also contain symbolic meaning in much the same way that early still life paintings often employed a rich and subtle lexicon of symbols. To take one example from the current show, Malala is shown with gladiolas, which are also known as Sword Lilies. This, in turn, may relate to a rather famous quote of Malala’s, “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”
These wonderful portraits will be joined by sculptures of young sparrows in a beautiful array of colors that celebrate the resilience and strength of daughters everywhere.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Inga Guzyte was born in Lithuania and emigrated to Gelsenkirchen, Germany with her mother and brother when she was still young. In Germany, the skateboarding community welcomed her, which was vital in helping her to build a life in a new country. When she turned 21, she immigrated to the United States, making her way to Santa Barbara to study English and art at Santa Barbara Community College – one of the best regarded City Colleges in the country and a place associated with such skateboarding companies as Shorty’s and Powell Peralta. After finishing school, Inga got to work – exhibiting broadly in her adopted home city of Santa Barbara. Since then, she has shown in San Francisco, Oakland, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Zürich, Vienna, and Los Angeles. Last year, Inga won first place in the At the Edges exhibition at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, as juried by Marcos Ramirez. She also got the Mayor’s Choice award at the L.A. Art Association’s exhibition Floating Worlds at the 825 Gallery last year. Right now, her work is showing at Barney’s in New York as part of a special presentation of the Women Who Dared Collection through Northwell Health.
4:34 | Jeremy Tessmer