The Fourth Wall


Victoria May


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"I wonder if her Fourth Wall show's title, Incremental, refers to the frustratingly slow cultural change humans are currently making, while the need for radical transformation becomes more urgent." – Mark Taylor, SFArts

The Fourth Wall gallery is pleased to present Incremental, a solo show of works by Bay Area/Los Angeles artist Victoria May. Using a wide range of materials, including fabric, rubber, felt, wire, wood, and thread, May creates beautiful, uncanny mixed media sculptures, two dimensional works, and installations that confront cultural and material dichotomies. "For me it is so much about the palpable response – the visceral response – and I often try to find the balance between repulsion and beauty. I often try different amounts of things in a piece to find that balance or the right connotations."

Hand stitching and machine sewing are central to May's art practice. She has been sewing since childhood and and even did a stint as a stitcher in a bridal boutique before graduate school. The materials she chooses tend to be found or repurposed. This is by design. "I am critical of the excess that is so rampant in our times and the obsession with newness and constant upgrading. The humble and abject materials that I use are pointing to the opposite."

In Victoria May's work, we are confronted with physical textures and tensions, with objects that are simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar, works that are outside of language, that push our senses.

In the last year and a half, we have seen how despite the usual plodding nature of life, things can indeed quickly and direly change. On the heels of a sudden loss comes a slow acceptance and adjustment, in the best case scenario. After something as sudden and traumatic as a pandemic and lockdown, nuances still ultimately emerge reminding us of the usual incremental way life proceeds; guidance comes slowly and is confusing. Even in regular life, it can take months to recover from illness or to make friends; it takes years to learn a new skill or to fully grieve.

It is through the working of materials and the exploration of different methods of production that I try to teach myself these larger lessons about life. Being curious about their behavior; finding their resilience and weakness; imagining their histories; what they served for. This is all a way to stay grounded with the vibrancies and preciousness of the physical and temporal world that surrounds us.

The works in this show draw from the humble materials of the everyday and serve to remind us of the incrementality and layered complexity involved as we palpate our way forward in our respective and collective lives. –Victoria May

Victoria May uses fabric and stitching as the basis for mixed-media sculpture and installation that address the tenderness and absurdity in the human condition. She is an avid advocate for material re-use and for the recognition of the beauty in the ordinary. May received her MFA from San Jose State University and her BA from UCLA. In 2010 she received a Santa Cruz County Rydell Fellowship and in 2015 she was named an Artist Laureate by Silicon Valley Creates. Her work has been published in By Hand, Fiber Arts, and Surface Design Journal and on numerous art websites. Her work has been exhibited at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, the Monterey Museum, the De Saisset Museum, Minnesota Street Project, the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Maloof Foundation, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. She has had residencies at Jentel Arts in Wyoming and the Lucid Art Foundation in Inverness, CA. In 2017-2018 she collaborated with Australian artist Andrea Pzrygonski on the topic of the great Pacific garbage patch and one of their works was selected for the Australian Print Triennial. May exhibits nationally and internationally and has been represented by Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson, AZ and Don Soker in San Francisco. She has taught art at Cabrillo College and currently serves as Program Coordinator for the campus gallery. She has also taught a number of workshops including at Penland and the Oregon College of Art and Craft.