A Potter’s Touch to an Architect’s System


Our beloved MOCA, 250 South Grand Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012, has opened a new installation at their design center in Hollywood, 8687 MELROSE AVENUE, WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA 90069.

Adam Silverman and Nader Tehrani studied together at the acclaimed Rhode Island School of Design as architects. This ‘art meets math’ background adds an astounding depth to a breathtaking creation. While Tehrani continued on in architecture, Silverman successfully launched Atwater Pottery.

Boolean Valley, a collaboration of Silverman and Tehrani creates an interesting visual push and pull. It is a display of dichotomy between form and absence, math and human touch, positive and negative space.

Each form, made of clay, is cut and arranged with a topographical precision. The initial impact is grand. I took my first step towards the piece with reverential hesitation. Because of the height of the piece, never above the knee, I was forced to view the installation as a whole first. It rang of Tara Donovan’s topographical installations, with an overwhelming sense of order. Enter the math.

The Boolean logic, or algebra, honestly had me stumped, but the beauty of the system it created translated with ease to the viewer. Initially it felt as though they had mimicked the style of Ann Hamilton, installing on the ground with beautiful pieces making a breathtaking whole. What set it apart, however, was the math.

Though precision, science, and engineering have never factored into the way I make art, I have a fierce appreciation for what those fields can do with an unruly world. I am reminded of LA artist, Lynn Aldrich, who studied and obtained multiple degrees in science but has made a deep impact in the art world. There is something innately beautiful in the patterns found in equations and systems. There is something altogether relatable in applying an objective system to a subjective world.

At first glance, Boolean Valley is inundated with this very fresh idea of mixing art and system. What is undeniably the hook of the installation, however, is the individual pieces of pottery which create the astounding whole.

Upon crouching down and taking a careful look at each piece, you can see the artist’s hand in the system. There are swells, crevices, and alterations in how they each were fired.

Thus begins the dance around the room of taking a step back to drink in the whole, the math, the system, and stooping to the level of the piece to obtain the human, the mistakes, and the personality of the installation. Each form has been cut at different points, so the piece as a whole rises and falls, creating a valley. Two different types of pottery are present, the positive and the negative, “domes and hoops”, according to the artists.

When two artists collaborate, it is important that they are different enough to create something fantastic that could have only been done together. Silverman and Tehrani achieved this goal and then some. Both had a hand in creating a piece that is continually in movement and inviting the viewer to be as well. They have created an experience that you will bring home, remember, and tell your friends about. This is where contemporary art is headed, towards the experience, breaking the ‘no touching’ gallery rule.

So, downtownsters, if you get in your car and trek out to Hollywood, you will find an experience worth the drive. Don’t be shy to step up close, stoop down, and back up. Enjoy the experience this piece is inviting you to have and make sure you bring back a friend before it comes down on July 5th.

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    03.22.09 – 07.05.09
    TUES–FRI 11am–5pm
    SAT, SUN 11am–6pm

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