From a distance, the work of 25-year-old sculptor and installation artist Angela Alba appears to be surreal, girly claymation. It's all a ploy. She lures people closer with approachable, nonthreatening colors and textures, only to slam them with potent, undiluted social commentary when they're too close to back away discreetly.
Using found objects, items from her home, and internet purchases as base, Alba builds her sculptures out of paper clay, sometimes incorporating bent neon as a light source. Since earning her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2015, the Millennial feminist artist has focused her efforts on issues around hair and body image, aiming to bringing body positivity and inclusivity into the art conversation. "Hair is such a weird part of our body that I love to address in work," Alba says. "You can take it off or leave it on, cut it short or grow it long. There are so many ways hair can define you as a person. But I think it is ridiculous when people try to monitor our bodies and say where we are and are not supposed to have hair."
- Angela Alba’s work will be on display, along with that of 17 other artists, in “Survey Dover Plains” at 5HArts.
Past installations have included a clay-covered razor next to a caucasian skin-tone strip of wall dotted with hair follicles, half shaved, half sprouting hair. Alba's predominantly pastel palette started facetiously, as mockery of traditional "girl colors," but over time she has grown to love the gentle tones unironically.
Survey Dover Plains, a large-scale exhibition of 17 artists on display at 5HArts through August 10, features three of Alba's works. Pink Pool, shown above, arose out of the timeless New York City-based artist concern about art storability. Alba bent neon for the piece, displaying it in a blow-up kiddie pool filled with neon kitty litter, eliciting distinct Miami vibes, while loosely recalling, for some, the uncomfortable moment of deciding whether to strip down to your bikini and get in the water or stay clothed and hot, and just wet your toes. Another piece, a pretty functional fan, covered in blue and pink clay, swirls air nondescriptly, but the coup de grace is the title: I Know I Don't Need a Vaginal Deodorant But I'm Airing Out Just in Case.
"Of course I want to address everything," Alba says. "It wouldn't be fair to just address hair removal, but there is so much to explore in that one area of shaming. So I'm hoping that by exploring one area at a time, it creates a ripple effect and people are able to draw conclusions."