Dream Weaver

Mul­tidis­ci­plinary artist LALA ABAD­DON is weav­ing her way to EMO­TIONAL eman­ci­pa­tion.


They say don’t judge a

book by its cover but if Lala Abad­don were one, she’d be as colour­ful to read as she is to look at. On FaceTime from a park in lower Man­hat­tan, the artist ap­pears as an aes­thetic ca­coph­ony: she’s wear­ing a striped shirt, clang­ing beaded neck­lace, and me­tal­lic shades set against fad­ing neon-green hair. The look is ev­ery­thing all at once—much like her vi­brant in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary art, which blends paint­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, in­stal­la­tion, and per­for­mance.

Abad­don is get­ting no­ticed for her “Metaweave” ta­pes­tries of por­trai­ture and ge­om­e­try. In each piece, the 30-year-old artist weaves two pho­to­graphs to­gether to cre­ate one hyp­notic im­age. They call to mind the Magic Eye craze of the ’90s, in which hid­den images were re­vealed only if the viewer learned to di­verge his or her eyes. In Abad­don’s work, an un­der­ly­ing mean­ing is sim­i­larly gleaned only once you fo­cus. And the process is as com­plex as the pieces them­selves.

Work­ing from a bank of por­traits pre­vi­ously shot on her Nikon 35mm or Canon 5d, she pairs two images (of­ten a close-up por­trait and an ab­stract paint­ing or land­scape), which then be­come spliced to­gether us­ing weav­ing soft­ware. Once a sat­is­fac­tory blue­print is achieved, the pho­tos are printed, cut and hand-wo­ven to­gether in Abad­don’s stu­dio. Each weave takes three or four days to com­plete, which Abad­don likes to crank out in quick suc­ces­sion, while her elec­tric-blue Ce­les­tial Par­rot­let, Po­quito, keeps a watchful eye. “She keeps me sane,” says the artist. “She re­minds me to eat and sleep, be­cause she has to do it all too.”

Abad­don’s in­tri­cate pat­terns mimic our con­stant need for stim­u­la­tion. On a more meta level, they ref­er­ence her own strug­gle to bal­ance na­ture, technology, and a sense of self.

Grow­ing up in Plant City, Florida (yes, it is a real place), Abad­don wasn’t en­cour­aged to be artis­tic. She itched to get out and fi­nally did, mov­ing to New York and dis­cov­er­ing paint­ing in her twen­ties. “I started do­ing art be­cause I went through a se­ri­ous pe­riod of de­pres­sion and it was the only thing I could do that would make me feel bet­ter,” she says. Art be­came Abad­don’s ther­apy. In 2016’s Mar­tyr

Syn­drome se­ries, she blended re­li­gious iconog­ra­phy with her in­grained need to please. “I was raised by a Catholic mother who has mar­tyr syn­drome, and she thinks she has to help ev­ery­one be­fore her­self. It re­ally rubbed off on me. It got me into an abu­sive mar­riage,” she says. “I worked through those is­sues in that se­ries, and that’s when I broke up with my ex.” In Not of This Earth, por­traits of strong, war­rior-like women ref­er­ence Abad­don’s de­sire to re­claim her own power.

Fresh off a di­vorce and with a decade in New York un­der her belt, Abad­don ar­rived at a unique sense of clar­ity. Much like her art, she craved a deeper re­la­tion­ship with na­ture. Ear­lier this year, she set off on a road trip through much of the United States, end­ing up in Ter­lin­gua, Texas, where she worked on sev­eral forth­com­ing per­for­mance pieces. In I Control What You See of me Even When You’re Not Here, Abad­don films her­self nude in the desert with noth­ing but a drone for com­pany. “It’s about how we control our self im­age on so­cial me­dia and how it ac­tu­ally af­fects our psy­che,” she says of the work. “A lot of my per­for­mance work is about how we’re all con­nected through so­cial me­dia but it cre­ates a vast alone­ness when you aren’t con­nected.” Out in the mid­dle of nowhere with lit­tle to no cell service, Abad­don was hap­pier than ever and de­cided to move out there full time. “It re­ally so­lid­i­fied for me that a reg­u­la­tion of so­cial me­dia and my ex­pec­ta­tion of it is needed for my hap­pi­ness.” Her lat­est, Lone Star, ex­plores her forth­com­ing jour­ney with a se­ries of desert-in­fused self-por­traits. “I’m try­ing to make them grander and more com­pli­cated, says Abad­don. Each piece will fea­ture kalei­do­scopic pat­terns through her power-posed land­scapes. “I’ve found so much strength in my­self this year. I can do it on my own.” Abad­don will be part of the group ex­hi­bi­tion “Sea­son of the Witch” start­ing July 22 at The Selig­mann Cen­ter of the Arts in Su­gar Loaf, New York.

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