Sandra Ono

October 30 - December 23, 2021

P.Bibeau is pleased to announce Flowers, a solo exhibition from Berkeley-based artist Sandra Ono. 

Ono’s sculptures present as a gesture informed by political and social narratives through adopting synthetic and ubiquitous materials as an equal absorber and surrogate. The union of Ono’s material selection, often mass produced or found in nature, uses scale and multiplicity to confront the physical likeness of the material body while considering form as uniquely realized and sensitively attuned to the narrative.

Flowers references the 1979 Greensboro Massacre and Ono’s namesake, Sandra (Sandi) Neely Smith, who at the age of 28 was slain by the American Nazi Party and Ku Klux Klan during a ‘Death to the Klan’ protest against the continued racial injustice in Greensboro.

Sandra Lee Neely Smith (December 25, 1950 – November 3, 1979), was born in Piedmont, SC. Smith was a community organizer for the Greensboro Association of Poor People (GAPP) and became a worker at the textile mill where she and others formed the Revolution Organizing Committee (ROC) to unionize the plant. Sandi was a leader of a march of over 3,000 people in Raleigh to free the Wilmington 10, ten young activists jailed on false charges to stop them from organizing. During the Greensboro Massacre, five protesters, including Smith, were gunned down in broad daylight by the KKK. Ono was named after Smith, a friend of her parents, and was handed down two silver rings worn by Smith.

The materialism of each sculpture uses abstraction to recreate a trace, confirming a space for the remembrance of lives taken and the impact it had on the community. Ono uses sand and resin to replicate soil, ceramic as the impression of fingerprints, and denim, which is specifically demonstrative of the Cone Mills textile plant that produced cotton fabric denim.

In Untitled (Greensboro V) Ono laboriously deconstructs denim thread by thread to reconfigure and portray the material resiliency while connecting the constitution of denim to the tenants of activism that Smith was known for. Untitled (Greensboro II) is made entirely of compacted sand with concave fingerprint impressions allowing evidence of existence into the substrate. Ono has cast a sterling silver ring in replication of Smith’s ring, and embedded it into the sculpture.

Using bath towels and acrylic, Ono multiplies layers of towels providing a landscape grid in Untitled (Greensboro VI). The formal composition allows the work to function as tightly hewn uneven plots of land, and the chosen material as an absorber for acrylic stains. Finally, the largest sculpture in the presentation, Untitled (Greensboro III), resists a traditional wall display and acts as a piece of solid soil excavated, leaning up against the wall at an angle. This sculpture is composed of compacted sand and features a cast resin ring and ceramic objects inserted throughout imprinted with the dragging of Ono’s fingers.

Sandra Ono received her MFA from Mills College, following undergraduate studies at UC Davis and Imperial College, London. She has shown her work in exhibitions locally and nationally at venues such as Southern Exposure, Stephen Wirtz Gallery, Incline Gallery, Electric Works, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Transmitter gallery in Brooklyn and in solo shows at Conduit Gallery in Dallas, Texas. Ono currently serves as visiting faculty lecturer at Mills College and has been awarded artist residencies at Headlands Center for the Arts, Minnesota Street Project, University of Texas at Dallas CentralTrak, Mascot Studio, Kala Art Institute, Southern Exposure and the Vermont Studio Center. Ono was the first recipient of the TOSA Studio Award established by the generosity of Victoria Belco and William Goodman. Flowers is Ono’s first solo exhibition in New York.

50% of proceeds will go to the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro, North Carolina (split equally between the gallery and artist).

Untitled (Greensboro II), 2020
sand, sterling silver ring, resin
9 x 11.5 x 1 inches

Untitled (Greensboro V), 2019
denim, resin and dye
11 x 13 x 2.5 inches

Untitled (Greensboro III), 2019
sand, cast resin, ceramics
48 x 37 x 1.5 inches

Untitled (Greensboro VI), 2021
towels and acrylic
41.5 x 31 x 3.5 inches