Happiness Is…

Installation views of a group exhibition Happiness Is… with Christine Wong Yap and Leah Rosenberg.

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Christine Wong Yap, Irrational Exuberance Flags; Leah Rosenberg, Striped Benches and Illuminated Stripes I.

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Christine Wong Yap, take charge of your happiness and MegaPennant; Leah Rosenberg, Striped Stool and Illuminated Stripes I, Susan O’Malley, A Space (for you)

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Christine Wong Yap, take charge of your happiness

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Christine Wong Yap, MegaPennant; Leah Rosenberg, Striped Stool and Illuminated Stripes I

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Susan O’Malley, A Space (for you)

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Leah Rosenberg, Walking Sticks and Seed Confetti

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Christine Wong Yap, what have i added to the wealth of creation, Leah Rosenberg, Paint Streamers, Striped Stool and Illuminated Stripes II.

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Leah Rosenberg, Striped Stool and Illuminated Stripes II.

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Christine Wong Yap, Positive Signs: United Theories and Mega Pentimento

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Christine Wong Yap, procession of Irrational Exuberance Flags

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Leah Rosenberg, Seed Confetti

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Leah Rosenberg, Walking Sticks; Susan O’Malley, A Healing Walk

Through existing works and new commissions, artists Susan O’Malley (San Jose), Leah Rosenberg (San Francisco), and Christine Wong Yap (New York) explore the age-old question: How do we cultivate happiness?

Wong Yap’s series of texts sewn from ribbons and installed directly on the gallery wall convey messages encouraging positive mental habits, while a new large-scale drawing diagrams the interconnections between theories of subjective wellbeing. Rosenberg explores how color, light and material impact our sense of contentment. Inspired by the use of light as a therapy for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), she invites gallery visitors to stand in front of her Illuminated Stripe Works, a series of small striped light boxes, and alleviate negative emotion. O’Malley has created a space in the gallery and invites visitors to experiment with various happiness-inducing activities, testing out the benefits of talking and listening to one another, and allowing time to relax. By transforming the gallery, O’Malley, Rosenberg and Wong Yap also examine the role of aesthetic pleasure in inspiring positive emotion.

The works in the gallery are distributed among two rooms—one blue and one grey. Works in the grey room imply that contentment spans a complex spectrum of emotions and conditions and suggest that positivity and pleasure may not be the only paths to happiness. Wong Yap’s MegaPentimento, conceived as a pair with MegaPennant, is a layered set of flags with varying arrangements of tints. The overlapping layers create darker opaque hues, signifying that happiness can encompass a range of interrelated mental states. Rosenberg’s Paint Streamers simultaneously express joy, celebration, decay, and failure as the once-abundant pile of twisted paint deteriorates and collapses over time. The work suggests that we often over-emphasize the importance of euphoric happiness; only by experiencing sadness and negative emotion can we demonstrate resilience and access the full richness of the human condition.

—Donna Conwell, curator

Curated by Donna Conwell, Happiness Is…  January 25 through May 31, 2013 at Montalvo Arts Center Project Space Gallery, Saratoga, California.

Projects supported by Lucas Artists Program at the Montalvo Arts Center

 

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