They are performing bodies. Their subtext is always shifting. Their meaning is fragile. Many of my pieces are constructed with a provisional quality, lovingly assembled with hints of recognizable material like a photograph, a piece of used cardboard or a found decorative napkin. When I use the materials, I drain the meaning from them and reinsert it, slightly scrambled. The material moves in and out of abstraction as it informs a series of decisions to develop a structural form with basic raw materials such as wood, metal or plaster. I find value in being responsive to a material or an environment. It feels tender and considerate. The process that unfolds is a sludgy expansion on each debris or material. It extrudes unknowable information; rebuilt and reformed and waiting for someone’s acceptance. Accepting is different than knowing.

Kunath lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and Philadelphia, PA. She recently acquired a degree in Nursing from Drexel University, holds an M.F.A. in Studio Art from University of California Santa Barbara, and a B.A. in Art and an MA in Education from the University of San Francisco. Kunath has participated in exhibitions in San Francisco, Oakland, Orange County, CA, Los Angeles, New York, Finland and Tokyo. She has been an independent curator since 2005 and  a member of LA-based collective, Manual History Machines since 2012.


When I first started working at the dump, the idea of having access to everything at the public disposal area, was dreamlike. I was coming from the mindset of an avid thrift storer / random-street-find picker-upper / flea market bargain hunter as opposed to an ecologically minded, recycle-impassioned green artist. I have always believed in restoration, preservation and transformation because it just makes sense, but I never bridged that concept with my artwork. I think that the idea of making art from trash speaks for itself.

One of the first themes that evolved at the dump was that of exoticism and animalia. I collected a multitude of animal figurines, which turned into a series of drawings and eventually worked its way into some curious shadow boxes.

I had become very attached to all of my “findings” at the dump. Going though people’s trash is a very personal process that I do not take lightly. I have been touched and moved, disgusted, excited and bored by what I have found here. I have become especially fond of others’ possessions that were once very important to them, such as photographs, jewelry, books, and generally, old, old things. I think you can measure an object’s importance by how old it is―by how long it took to make its way to the trash, and ultimately how really sad it is that we stop caring at some point.  

See photos for this artist.

Residency: June 2005 - May 2006
Art Exhibition: Friday, May 26  &  Saturday, May 27

Visit Bessie Kunath's website