Towards a Raw Materialism

Towards a Raw Materialism

Curated and Organized by Simon Leung


Winter 2021


Exhibit space (closed to public):
xMPL (Experimental Media Performance Lab)

Towards a Raw Materialism is an experimental project with artists Patty Chang, David Kelley, Ravi GuneWadena, and Miles Coolidge. The event consists of an exhibition in the xMPL (Experimental Media Performance Lab) and several online events with artists and scholars. This project collects contemporary artists working across numerous media (film, performance, photography, and ikebana), each dealing with the raw material of the earth – metal, water, wood, coal, etc. – simultaneously as the content and the physical medium of their work.

Co-sponsored by the Art Department, the Department of Asian American Studies in the School of Humanities, with faculty participation from the School of Social Sciences, and UCI Illuminations

Image: Miles Coolidge, Coal Seam, Bergwerk Prosper-Haniel 1, 2013. Pigment inkjet print, 57 x 50 inches. Courtesy of the artist.


UCI Visiting Artist Lecture Series events

Free admission; all are welcome!
Project assistants: Zack Benson, Hiroshi Clark
For further information, please contact


Milk Debt
Lecture by artist Patty Chang

Respondent: Simon Leung

Friday, May 7, 2021
2:00 p.m. (PST)

Please join us for a lecture by artist Patty Chang, who will speak on her recent work Milk Debt, with respondent Simon Leung (Art, UCI). 

Register Here:

Milk Debt, Artist Patty Chang’s most recent work, explores the deep relationship between the body, the psyche, community and ecology. The title of the work comes from the concept in Chinese Buddhism that a child can never repay the mother for raising and feeding it with her breast milk. Developed in 2019 and 2020, Chang collected lists of fears from people in different geographical regions, which were then turned into a script and read by different lactating performers each pumping her breast milk. Although the recitations of fears are performed by the women on film, they are not originating with that person, but from greater communities, contexts, and atmospheres. These fears take many forms and register on many levels, ranging from relational insecurities and private terrors to systemic oppression and collective trauma. The project arises from the artist’s environmental anxieties, and looks to feminist strategies to reconsider the relationship between body and land. As the overarching fear of climate change bubbles up multiple concerns around global unrest, changing geographies, crumbling democracy, and the future we leave for our children, this project makes visible the internal or invisible, and explores how acts of love and empathy (like the giving of breastmilk to a child) help us think expansively and beyond ourselves. The artist writes: “I believe that the act of producing breast milk and lactation is an empathetic act. Biologically, breast milk is created when the body starts to produce the hormones of prolactin and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced when someone is in love. The act of producing breast milk allows the woman to engage in this state of being, which some might describe as being more connected, being more open and accepting, and not thinking of oneself first.”

Patty Chang is a Los Angeles based artist and educator who uses performance, video, installation and narrative forms when considering identity, gender, transnationalism, colonial legacies, the environment, large-scale infrastructural projects and impacted subjectivities. Her work has been exhibited nationwide and internationally at such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; New Museum, New York; M+ Museum, Hong Kong; BAK, Basis voor actuele Kunst, Utrecht; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, England; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Times Museum in Guangzhou, China; and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. She has received a United States Artist Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Grant, a Creative Capital Fellowship, short listed for the Hugo Boss Prize, a Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Grant. She teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

This event is made possible by UCI Medical Humanities, UCI Illuminations, and is co-sponsored by Department of Art & Department of Asian American Studies.

Register Here:

Free admission

Ravi GuneWardena
Miles Coolidge

Respondent: Bert Winther-Tamaki

Tuesday, March 2, 2021
12:00 - 1:30 p.m. (PST)

Please join us for a double artist lecture by Ravi GuneWardena and Miles Coolidge, who will each speak on their individual work in ikebana and photography, respectively, with a response by Bert Winther-Tamaki.

Register Here:

Ravi GuneWardena, an architect by profession, is a practitioner of Sogetsu Ikebana, studying under ikebana teacher Haruko “Gyokushun” Takeichi, Riji, Overseas Eiyo Syo, Sogetsu School. He is a member of the Sogetsu Men’s Class, founded by Kaz Yokou Kitajima in 2012 in preparation for the Sogetsu Seminar the following year. Developing his practice as an ikebana artist over the past 15 years, GuneWardena worked simultaneously on learning the essential curriculum of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana and on researching the history of the school and its headmasters. As an architect and half of Escher Gunewardena Architecture, he and his partner Frank Escher has collaborated with artists such as Sharon Lockhart, Mike Kelley, and Stephen Prina; and designed exhibitions for the Carnegie International, LACMA, and the Kemper Museum. In 2013 they created the site-specific chamber opera, “ Pauline," based on the letters of Pauline Schindler, for the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles.

Miles Coolidge's artwork is often concerned with subject matter at the intersection of landscape and architecture. His work gained international visibility in the mid-1990's, standing out as a synthesis of his exposure to the post-studio ethos of his California Institute of the Arts experience as an MFA student, and his year of DAAD-supported post-graduate study in the class of Bernd Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. His work has been shown internationally, including at venues such as NRW-Forum, Düsseldorf; the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Projekt Fabrika, Moscow; Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; the Shanghai Museum of Art, China, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, the Albright-Knox Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Henry Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015 and is Professor of Art at UC Irvine.  

Bert Winther-Tamaki’s scholarship focuses on the role of the visual arts in the construction of modern meanings of materials, especially in twentieth-century Japan. His forthcoming book TSUCHI: An Environmental History of Contemporary Japanese Art follows the plight of earthy materials such as loam, landfill, beach sand, potter’s clay, and riverbank pebbles in ceramics, photography, and installation art in Japan since the 1950s. Much of Winther-Tamaki’s work has focused on artists whose positions partly outside Japan complicated the artistic identities they developed in various media. He is the author of Art in the Encounter of Nations: Japanese and American Artists in the Early Postwar Years (2001) and Maximum Embodiment: Yoga, the "Western Painting" of Japan, 1910-1955 (2012). Winther-Tamaki is Professor of Asian American Studies, Visual Studies, and Art History and Chair in the Department of Art History at UC Irvine.

Register Here:

Free admission

David Kelley
Respondent: Bill Maurer

Tuesday, March 9, 2021
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. (PST)

Please join us for an artist lecture by artist David Kelley, with a response by Bill Maurer.

Register Here:

David Kelley works with photography, video, and installation. His recent projects draw attention to the effects of global capitalism, resource extraction, and shifting physical and political landscapes. Influenced by a range of visual traditions, Kelley draws upon elements of experimental documentary, ethnography, performance, and avant-garde cinema. By working at the intersection of these strategies, he encourages an understanding of his subjects that is simultaneously direct and speculative. His recent exhibitions include the Louvre in Paris, Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Other exhibitions include Commonwealth and Council in Los Angeles, The Bank in Shanghai, the de Cordova Biennial in Boston, BAK in Utrecht, MAAP space in Australia, and the Jim Thompson Art Center in Bangkok. Kelley received a Master of Fine Art from the University of California, Irvine, and was a 2010 -11 resident at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program. He is currently Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Arts at University of Southern California, and was named a Cultural Trailblazer 2020-2021 by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Bill Maurer is a cultural anthropologist and sociolegal scholar whose most recent research looks at how professional communities conceptualize and build financial technology or “fintech,” and how consumers use and experience it. More broadly, his work explores the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment, from cowries to credit cards and cryptocurrencies. As an anthropologist, he is interested in the broad range of technologies people have used throughout history and across cultures to figure value and conduct transactions and has particular expertise in alternative and experimental forms of money and finance, payment technologies, and their legal implications. He is the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (, and his numerous curatorial work includes an ongoing exhibit on the past, present and future of money at the British Museum. Prof. Maurer is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine.

Register Here:

Free admission


Please visit our secure direct giving page and make a gift to support Art today!

Make a Gift

February 15, 2021 - 12:00am
May 7, 2021 - 11:55pm
March 2, 2021 - 12:00pm
March 9, 2021 - 3:00pm
May 7, 2021 - 2:00pm