Born in Venezuela, Magdalena moved to Chile at age 20. In 1962, Paul Harris described her in Art in America as “the most daring sculptor working in Chile.” The following year she received a scholarship to study art in New York where she met her husband, ceramist Michael Frimkess. The couple moved to Los Angeles where they collaborated for many years on usually large-scale ceramic pieces, typically thrown by Michael and decorated by Magdalena. In 2014, the couple was awarded the Mohn Prize at the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial. All the while, however, she continued to develop on her own one of the most idiosyncratic bodies of ceramic work. Her first solo show was in 2013, when she was 84 years old. Unbound by convention, her work explores a diverse range of influences including various forms of folk art, comic books, myth, and animation. Reviewing her 2017 show at kaufmann repetto, New York, NY Times art critic Roberta Smith called the artist, “some kind of genius.” It is genius not only for its beguiling imagery—revealing her irrepressible creativity—but also for the ineffable attraction of its handmade quality.
After Magdalena Suarez Frimkess engaged the students in conversation, Art Division hosted a series of workshops over the summer with artists Bruno Schmidt (pictured), Patricia Yossen, Ryan Preciado, Fabián Cereijido and Salomon Huerta. Students were invited to experiment with ceramics and sculpture in general. Many used this opportunity to use the three-dimensional form as a pictorial medium, as does Suarez Frimkess. Some chose to employ pop imagery, such as comics.
The results you see on display here in the two recessed areas of the Art Division gallery. They are as individual as the students themselves.