Alicia Piller : Reconstructing Ruins

Cal Poly University’s Art Gallery presents Reconstructing Ruins, a solo exhibition of sculptures by LA Artist Alicia Piller. The show opens February 1, 2024 and will run Feb. 1- March 8, 2024. A reception will be held on February 1 from 5-7 pm in the gallery, with an artist talk at 6 pm. The University Art Gallery is free and open to the public from 11 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday. The gallery is located in Dexter (Bldg. 34) on the Cal Poly Campus.

About the Show

Moving backwards then forwards in time, the sculptural works in Reconstructing Ruins tackle the legacy of Americana. Mimicking forms of cellular biology as a method to locate the root of human histories; this selection of works equally fixates on materiality and content. An exploration of history, examining the pathways through which we all got here today; the present, with its anxiety ridden energy; and the future, represented as objects in a liminal space of transition. Elements of nature are purposefully infused into almost every work, emphasizing the vital connection between humanity and the Earth. Glimpses of hope are seen through this integration, the hopes of planting new seeds that nourish the future for everyone.

Pathways, Mapping Injustices sets the tone, taking the viewer on a journey from the remnants of forgotten Native communities, into the world of state sanctioned racism; highlighting the case of Dread Scott. Memorials, From Sea to Shining Sea.’ brings us into the here and now, a monument and memorial to the victims of gun violence and the collective pain of a nation. Raw materials, curated objects, and news clippings fuse together to capture the unpredictable energy of the times. Continuing clockwise through the gallery, objects become talismans for the future. The stacking of unfamiliar forms in, Tectonic Plates, Shifting Poles.’ sparks a reimagining of new structures, revised systems, built with remnants of the past to create something contemporary; a new solid foundation.

Spirit of the Future’ rounds out the show, a metaphoric beginning, landing the viewer back in the mind of the human; prompting contemplation on the possibilities for the future of our planet and nation. Instead of dwelling solely on apocalyptic visions this culminating work begins to imagine brighter futures: not just physical places and infrastructures, but states of mind. All of these sculptural works become a part of a fragmented mirror, capturing the convergence of environmental and societal disintegration; while simultaneously allowing this space created for uncertainty to become a catalyst forward.


University Art Gallery:
Alicia Piller:

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Pathways, mapping injustices, Alicia Piller, 2023 (56”H X 67”W X 7”D)

Vinyl, laser prints (Button bush plant, ‘Big Mound’ 1852, Sugar Loaf Mound present day, Dred Scott, Cover of Legal review: Case of Dred Scott), latex balloons, pine wood, recycled screen printing ink on masking tape, foam, gel medium.


About Alicia Piller

Alicia Piller is an LA based artist working in sculpture and installation whose practice contemplates the intersections of climate change, shifting political climates, and historical traumas. From her artist statement: My enveloping sculptures and installations expand, to actualize singular systems that feel equally familiar and foreign. The construction of each work becomes a biological unfolding of time that examines the energy around wounds left by historical traumas.” From her gallery in Los Angeles, Track 16: (Alicias) sculptural works become a part of a fragmented mirror, capturing the convergence of environmental and societal disintegration, while simultaneously allowing this space created for uncertainty to become a catalyst forward, a glimpse into landscapes of growth, hope, new weather, new environments.” Her perspective is important for our students to hear, her work aligns closely with our university sustainability learning objectives and diversity learning objectives, and her presence would be a valuable contribution to our community.

Piller was born and raised in Chicago and received her Bachelors in both Fine Arts (Painting) & Anthropology from Rutgers University in 2004. In 2022, the New York Times named her one of five artists to watch at the California Biennial.” Continuing to expand her artistic practice, Alicia completed her MFA focused on sculpture and installation from CalArts in May of 2019. Alicia is currently represented in Los Angeles by Track 16 Gallery. Her work is a part of the Hammer Permanent Collection 2020, Glendale College Collection, Forrest Kirk Collection, the Pam Royalle Collection, & Janine Barrois Collection. Her work was featured on the cover of Full Blede Magazine, Issue 10 (Fall 2019), the Lumina Journal (Sarah Lawrence College, Jan 2020), LA Times (August 2022), and the New York Times (October 2022).

About the Cal Poly University Art Gallery

The University Art Gallery is a venue for helping to nurture creativity, empathy, innovation, design skills, storytelling, and big-picture thinking by bringing bold thinkers, emerging and established artists, and creative professionals to campus. Providing a venue for five exhibitions each academic year, the University Art Gallery serves Cal Poly and the surrounding area. The gallery showcases nationally and internationally known artists, as well as student, alumni and faculty artwork.

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