“The Ratio of People to Cake” is the title of Ellsworth Gallery’s two-artist exhibit featuring work by friends Jared Weiss and Owen Marc Laurion, who met when they both went to graduate school at the San Francisco Art Institute. The show opens on April 12.
Weiss, who paints people in scenes, moved to Santa Fe after earning his master’s degree in 2015. Laurion, who creates ceramic-based pieces and also earned his master’s degree in 2015, moved to town a little later with Weiss’s encouragement.
Weiss is influenced by the psychoanalytic writings of Slavoj Zizek and Sigmund Freud. In particular, he’s inspired by Freud’s 1899 paper “Screen Memories.”
“Freud’s concept of a screen memory is a visual memory from childhood that’s actually false,” he explains. “It could be traumatic, but it might not be. For some reason, the visual memory remembers in a way that’s not accurate.”
Weiss’s paintings are somewhat like Freud’s screen memories. Weiss takes photos of friends and family members and collages them with landscape images to create imagery that is real and unreal at the same time.
“My girlfriend and I have dinner parties, and sometimes I have our guests pose for me during the parties,” Weiss says. “I may collage them into a scene from New Mexico, California or Ohio, where I grew up.”
Weiss’s childhood home in the industrial Midwest was on a lumberyard. He describes it as “ a weird place, very surreal.” His family’s lumberyard can be seen in his 2019 painting titled “A Couple-Three Times Would Really Have Been Enough,” which is included in the show.
“I see the figures in my work as actors,” he adds. “My paintings are like theater productions.”
About his mixed media, clay-based work that also involve the technique of collage, Laurion says, “Meaning is fabricated through a juxtaposition of different forms, materials and sources. My own appropriation of collage collects varying histories, narratives and methods within a singular object.”