Wk 4 – Artist Conversation – May Ta

This week, the students in ART 110 returned to the gallery on campus to experience more amazing pieces of art! I looked at all the exhibits this week, however, the one that specifically caught my attention was the exhibit ,”Closer”, a project put on display by Carly Lake and May Ta in the Dennis W. Dutzi gallery. I had the opportunity to meet May Ta during my visit, a senior studying fine arts and illustration at CSULB.

The first thing I did was explore the exhibit on my own, immediately noticing that “Closer” was a very immersive exhibit. It included pieces of art, furniture, and various objects around an open room to give the feeling of being in a stranger’s quarters. With the help of the description, I began to pick out two common themes throughout the exhibit: intimacy and isolation. Through the description displayed on the wall, the artists explained that they believed intimacy and isolation can have infinite interpretations. Intimacy can either keep people from discovering themselves or can actually make them closer to themselves. Isolation can be inescapable or exist in intimacy. The pieces of art scattered throughout the exhibit all shed different ideas on intimacy and isolation. When I looked at the art, I began to pick out emotions, ideas, and began growing curious about the artists’ motivations for some of the things they incorporated.

At the time, May Ta was present at the exhibit, so I decided to talk to her about what the exhibit was all about. When I asked what she was hoping to achieve by making it a physically immersive space, she replied that she wanted viewers to feel invited to join in the solitude and privacy of the person. Privacy is something that is very intimate, and by stepping into a person’s private space, you are sharing a certain intimacy with them. With the very contrasting themes of intimacy and isolation, I also asked May whether she thought the exhibit as a whole was created to be more positive or negative. She personally thought the exhibit had a more negative vibe to it, however, she assured me it was open to interpretation and that viewers were encouraged to take away whatever they initially felt from the exhibit. The last question I had for May was something specific I noticed in the exhibit: a blank easel.

A blank easel displayed in the center of the exhibit.

My question regarded if there was a specific reason why the easel was generally blank. May generously explained that the blank easel represents the distance in the identity of the person living there. It was also there to make the person seem even more present.

I enjoyed the exhibit it was the right amount of mysterious. It wasn’t so mysterious that it was vague, however, it was mysterious in the way that it invoked emotions. It also made me reflect on how a room can reflect people. Bedrooms are where people spend a lot of their time and the way they keep it can say a lot about what’s inside a person. I thought their take was very creative and refreshing. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of symbolism and the use of different contrasting ideas existing in a single place.

May Ta posing with one of her paintings titled “Estranger” (acrylic and ink)

May Ta unfortunately does not have a website yet, although she is currently working on getting one up. She does have an Instagram though! You can see more of May Ta’s work @maypta.


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