BMCA to host family show 'Break-or-MAKE'

Courtesy of BMCA
Special to Black Mountain News
A sculpture by Todd Frahm.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts welcomes the work of painter and Warren Wilson faculty Lara Nguyen, sculptor Todd Frahm and their children Atticus and Moon to the Upper Gallery for a family show titled Break-or-MAKE.

The show runs through Nov. 24 and opens Nov.7 with a limited in-person opening reception from 3-5 p.m. Guests are asked to wear masks and enter through the front door on State Street before being allowed access to the Upper Gallery. There will be distanced socialization on the back patio after guests have viewed the show.

Nguyen and Frahm are artists and co-owners of Stone Cloud Studio (SCS) located in Asheville. SCS is a collaborative venture that couples the talents of Nguyen and Frahm, while holding public art as a primary focus. The couple has completed large-scale public works nationally and internationally. But like most of us, work got put on hold and the focus shifted when the Covid crisis hit.

This has been a challenging year for a number of reasons, including Nguyen’s recent cancer diagnosis.

“Outside, there is a global pandemic, climate change, and polarizing politics,” says Nguyen. “Inside, there is our family of four working out the business of living through this moment with a terminal cancer diagnosis. While it may seem like everything is a make-or-break moment lately, we are flipping the script and using art to survive this time.”

A painting by Warren Wilson faculty member and painter Lara Nguyen.

Break or MAKE is the family’s response to all of it.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to create an exhibition not driven by the art, but driven by the art life.” Part of the show’s statement reads: Stone Cloud Studio has always been about our family making art... We are always grateful to be making art our life’s work, and we are grateful to see art at work in our children. At age four, Atticus inquired, “Can a goldfish live in a water balloon?”

At age four, Moon asked, “Mama, who will cover me when I am dead?”

Between life and death, between the absurd and the heartbreaking, we choose to make art, sharing our stories in hopes of creating opportunities for greater empathy. All we have is this moment now and we want to do something together. Break-or-MAKE asks us to see art as a way to freeze time, separate from the crises inside and outside our homes, and live in this moment. In living more fully in the moment, we may be better able to pay attention and care for our planet and each other.

In this body of work, Frahm explores our relationship to animals and the environment and advocates for its protection: “Through metaphor, I attempt to cultivate seeds of responsibility for and stewardship of the natural world.” Lara Nguyen’s work ranges in media and formats including painting, drawing, murals, installation, and performance.

This work, especially her collaborations with her children, focuses on her wish to stop time. Her cancer diagnosis has also increased her sense of urgency around art. “Access to art is extremely important to me,” she says. “I want to contribute to a living and breathing museum for anyone and everyone, no matter their age, country of origin, or socio-economic situation. Art is for all.”

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 W. State St. The Upper Gallery is free and open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.