Contemporary Arts Center
Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center
for Contemporary Art
44 E. 6th Street,
Cincinnati, OH 45202

513 345 8400


Isa Gagarin: Risåki (Receding Wave)

Exploring the relationship between body and place

10 December

25 April

Exhibition Highlights

Exhibition Details

Painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Isa Gagarin works in a site-responsive manner to create tactile environments that are rooted in place. Informed by traditional color-theory on the one hand, and her careful observations of nature, light, and her surroundings on the other, she creates spaces and compositions that hover between abstraction and representation. For The Regional, Gagarin has created a new work that responds to her research into indigenous Pacific Islander navigation technologies. Rather than using a sextant or a compass, these communities commonly use their outstretched hand as a tool for determining direction by measuring the angle and distance between oneself and the sun. The work’s composition, rendered in pieces of crumpled newsprint, features abstracted hand forms, layered upon imperfect, organic, water-like semi-circles. The shades of cool blue and grey, flecks of bright orange, yellow, and pink are a nod to a quintessential aspect of the Midwestern landscape—the prairie. Wayfinding and navigation can be seen as a metaphor for the social and political reorientation needed in America today. Risåki (Receding Wave) explores the relationship between body and place, and the power that something as subtle as a shift in the way we see, might trigger greater shifts in consciousness and therefore, in action.


Isa Gagarin

About the Artist

Isa Gagarin was born in Guam in 1986. She holds a BFA in painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (2008) and an MFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (2018). In her site-specific installations and mixed media works on paper, Gagarin creates compositions that respond to the ephemeral, transformative nature of light, color, and water. Through her environmental explorations, the artist finds points of connection between her work, her personal experiences of being raised Hawai’i, and her ancestral lineages in Guam and the Philippines. She has been featured in solo exhibitions at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis (2009); Rochester Art Center, MN (2011); and Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA (2019 and 2020). Her work has also been included in group exhibitions like "Addendum," Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago; "Objects for Consideration," Soo Visual Arts Center, Minneapolis (both 2014); "juntos pero no revueltos," Good Weather Gallery with Parque Galería, Mexico City (2018); and "Phone Home," The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York (2019). She currently lives and works in Minneapolis, MN, where she is a lecturer at the University of Minnesota and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Curated by

This work is a part of The Regional, which is curated by Amara Antilla and Jade Powers, and was conceived in collaboration with Courtenay Finn. The exhibition is co-organized by Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

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