Walking into Pomona's Chan Gallery is like walking into a bikini factory. The sound of women singing and sewing machines rhythmically blares through the space: a white-walled gallery marked by its large, intimate photographs of fabric and the hands that have sewn it. This was Anthony Lepore's childhood.
Oct. 4 marked the opening of a new exhibit in Pomona College’s Chan Gallery, located in Pomona’s Studio Art building. The installation is composed of the works of Anthony Lepore and Samira Yamin, both visiting art professors at Pomona this semester. By providing the work of Pomona faculty, the gallery allows for students to obtain a greater understanding of the artistic works of their instructors.
Lepore’s work is based on his experiences growing up in his father’s bikini factory in Los Angeles. A description of the exhibit on the Chan Gallery website states “Lepore has been making photographs inspired by the gap between that invention and the reality of the working environment.” One example of this is a large photograph that adorns the back wall of the space portraying hands poking through fabric, desperately clinging onto the strings that hold that fabric together.
Through the mediums of photography, sculpture, and sound, Lepore conveys the environment of the bikini factory and the reality of the space that creates such a fantastical product. Gallery coordinator Tricia Avant added that “Lepore has his studio inside the factory, which is a very active place. So the exhibition not only conveys the reality of the factory floor, but of his studio.” A piece that exemplifies this idea is his Untitled (work table with music) that is a work table embossed with erotic imagery of women in bikinis nearly identical to those created at that table. The table is connected to speakers that blare the sounds of the factory, including women singing and music playing with the hum of the sewing machines.
Though Yamin’s work is unrelated to Lepore’s, her art is displayed directly beside his, in a surprisingly cohesive way. Her work consists of geometric Islamic patterns cut into pieces from TIME Magazine articles about current military conflicts in the Middle East. The Chan Gallery's website explains the use of the patterns, stating “In Islam, sacred geometries are visual representations of the 99 names of God–The Infinite, The Truth, The Just, The Creator of Order, et cetera, but in this context they also suggest an ornamental, read Orientalist, image of Islam and of the Islamic world.” In one such piece, the TIME cover featuring Osama bin Laden has an Islamic geometric pattern carved into his image, blurring his features and the text of the title. The intricately cut pieces of paper are beautifully done and call for one to consider the religious implications of the events that the magazine depicts.
The Chan Gallery hosts multiple events throughout the year, cumulating with the presentation of Junior and Senior thesis work in May. Lepore and Yemin’s exhibits run until Nov. 17.