Artist: Tidawhitney Lek
Exhibition: “Doodles in Space”
Media: mixed media
Gallery: Werby Art Gallery
About the Artist
Tidawhitney Lek has the most creative name I have ever witnessed in my entire life. For short, though, we’ll just call her Tida. Tida was born and raised in the city of Long Beach, California and has always had creative talents. Tida has always explored the possibilities of what it means to be an artist and the paths that she must take in order to really embrace the creativity she has.She was introduced to oil painting in High School and has not stopped creating art since then.
Tida currently attends CSULB’s BFA program and is majoring in Drawing and Painting. At school, she primarily studies contemporary abstraction in oil painting. Over the past 5 years that she has attended The Beach, she has realized that she is truly dedicated to this path of research and exploration.
“The school and the faculties at CSULB have always given me, and others, amazing support and opportunities, and I have had the privilege to witness and experience it. Just being able to have a space and an exhibition at the school itself is a major support for the students who are artist, to do what they need to do. It’s absolutely a great art department.”
Tida is a sensational artist and loves working with her oil paints. That, however, does not mean that she has a least favorite.
“There is not such things as a least favorite because in the study of contemporary abstraction there are no boundaries in exploration and it would be silly to underestimate one kind of medium’s attribute over another.”
For that reason, Tida constantly meddles in many other mediums as much as she can because she sees every medium as an endless possibility and opportunity to push her understanding of everything around her.
Tida, as an individual, doesn’t have much of a process for producing her art. She rides of her intuition most of the time. However, lately, she has been slowing down so that she can be more critical and nurturing to her work. She wants to be more concise and have a clear reasoning for what she does and why she does it. Her recent trip to China made her realize how much of her work has been based on her formal studies, and now she wants to further develop her art through concept, research, and development.
“Doodles in Space” was a collaborative project between Tida and her friend Juliana Bustillo, another amazing artist from CSULB. Together they challenged themselves, their art skills, and time in order to make this exhibit work. The original exhibit “Doodles in Space” was to consist of themes about the “mind and it’s depth,” and was to have a play on words. Unfortunately, the time that Tida and Juliana were given to install the project was too short and they weren’t successful in integrating some parts of the original idea. But not to worry, it was an overall great experience for both girls. What did make it into the exhibit was the lack of color we all saw. The whole room was black and white for formal reasons, but they also did it that way so that people’s minds could play with ideas of positivity and negativity.
“It was a clear choice to also assess the complexity of the whole project. If we were to add color there would be much more information to consider and not enough time.”
The exhibit in itself was an explorative project, as well as a testing ground for a project outside of Tida’s usual practice. Most of Tida’s work, which can be found on her Instagram page, is colorful and takes a lot to process. Most of the ideas she gets for her art stem from curiosity, the frustration of not knowing, or things she happens to come across. For right now, the ideas she gets are not so linear, and part of her art is the challenge to take on and try to understand or investigate those things that she doesn’t comprehend in an innovative way. In many ways, those things are what she and Juliana tried to convey in this art exhibit.
Well, it’s time for me to tell you about what I felt.
I honestly thought the exhibit was closed because I saw a large plywood board covering the entrance of the gallery. So naturally, I didn’t enter. That was until I saw a boy from my class come out and instantly went to go double check. What I saw at first was a narrow pathway, fit for only one person, and black. I walked through the narrow pathway, and what I saw was mind blowing. A whole room of pure black and white that seemed to be falling in. There was so much movement going on, and everything was so still at the same time.
I’m the type of person that doodles on the corners of any piece of paper I can find, and when I walked into that exhibit I felt like I had been transported into some sort of la-la land. You could even ask my friend Van who came inside with me. As soon as I walked into the exhibit I walked to every corner of the room and even laid down on the floor to look at the ceiling. I felt so relaxed and like I was floating space. The fact that I couldn’t even see the entrance to the exhibit made it even better. I wasn’t distracted by the fact that people kept coming in, I was in my own zone, in my own world.
The fact that Tida and Juliana used so many textured papers, and manipulated them in so many ways, left me awestruck. They used toilet seat covers on most of their walls, and at first, I thought that was so funny, but when I kept looking at it I found that the shapes worked so well. They gave the room a certain type of structure that lacked in other ways because of the falling sculptures coming from the ceiling. Those sculptures involved a lot of string and paper that had geometric patterns cut into them, but overall they just looked like they were falling.
In many ways, the exhibit looked like my doodles had come to life, and trust me when I say that it was so refreshing and relaxing to look at everything in black and white. I feel that many people think that you have to have color in order to induce deep, thought provoking thoughts, but that’s not true. When I walked into the exhibit, I was the only thing in color and my surroundings were either black or white. I was the only complicated thing in there, but my color did not distract from everything around me. In a way, I think it sort of represents how we see the world when we’re young. Good, or evil. Black, or white. No shades of gray or color involved because that makes everything more complicated as it is. Even the name of the exhibit shows some source of daydream, childlike qualities. “Doodles” are considered childish things that we do out of boredom while we daydream or something. The “space” however, is the transportation vehicle that takes you away. To me, the “space” meant the physical space we were in, the spiritual mindset I went into when I walked in, and actual space because I felt that I was floating.
“Doodles in Space” very much reminded of a whimsical place where anything was possible. It was a bit reminiscent of the carnival tents made by Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair in Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.”