Hanna Pettyjohn Brings Glad Echoes while Nikki Luna Channels the Easter Bunny

Two ladies, both counted among the most exciting visual artists working today, take over SLab and 20Square to give us two very distinct experiences:


In American Sweet (May 2009), Hanna Pettyjohn defined the isolation she felt living for a short spell in Texas.  She spent time there in 2006 getting to know the American side of her father’s family, meeting her relatives, even her grandfather, for the first

Hanna Pettyjohn, "HCP:IL", her paternal grandparents


Hanna Pettyjohn, "Fate, Tx", aerial map of Texas

In this exhibit, we see Hanna (now 27) completing what she had set out to do on that Texas sojourn:  discover herself by putting together her family’s story.  Year of Glad celebrates 2010 as the year Hanna culminates this journey of self-discovery.  She shows four works, each one a page in her family album, viewed independently, but impossible to completely detach from the others.  She isolates each piece in its own space, each room separated by wooden partitions.  Four large-scale paintings have been complemented by an installation of wooden objects, chunks sawed and sanded to echo elements in the paintings.  She recreates old photographs of her grandparents for two of the pieces.  Each one shows a young couple standing close together. The other two paintings depict an aerial view of their hometowns, maps of Cavite and Texas.  Hanna claims these two locales—which are separated by more than just their distance from each other—as hers too.

A close up of Hanna's maternal grandparents

Year of Glad is pretty straightforward, especially for us viewers.  We simply share in the resolution of a project that took Hanna to her roots.  What actually went on in this search for her identity remains a process that Hanna has kept largely to herself.



Nikki Luna brings forth a sophisticated rendition of an oft-repeated truism:  that women are stronger than they seem.  She uses eggs—cartons of them—as metaphors for women. Eggs denote hearth and home.  They act as wombs to cradle the young, and provide sustenance for our bodies.  Eggs pack in quite a punch within their fragile shells, even if they do break at the slightest pressure.  It is this notion of frailty that Nikki plays around with in this solo exhibit.

Trays of eggs have been laid out on the gallery’s floor.  They lie behind a rigid curtain, a strip of cardboard covered with crushed eggshells.  One’s instinct would be to tread carefully around this carpet of eggs.  Then you realize that Nikki has cast these eggs from resin.  They have been designed to take a person’s weight.  You may mar their appearance with a streak of dirt when you walk over them, but only a sledgehammer can crush their solid cores.

"Ovoid/Void" installation view

One of Nikki’s more celebrated pieces has been Unmentionables, her series of clear resin guns covered with lace. The beauty of those works lies in the juxtaposition of violent instruments against their dainty wrappings.  Ovoid/ void elicits a similar disconnect.  Once again we see Nikki continue to explore this interplay of delicacy and strength.

A curtain of eggshells

Year of Glad and The Easter Bunny-just as charming, and just as fake both run from 24 November to 18 December 2010 at SLab and 20Square, 2F YMC Bldg. 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.  Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit http://www.slab.silverlensphoto.com

Another installation view


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