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Susan Aparicio’s ‘Stellar Remnants’ showcases a cosmic display of love and loss

Standing in an art studio, Susan Aparicio displays three star-shaped pieces. The alumnus’ first solo exhibition, “Stellar Remnants,” will be on view at LaPau Gallery until July 15. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

"Stellar Remnants”

Susan Aparicio

LaPau Gallery

May 6 to July 15

By Harbaksh Kaur

July 7, 2023 12:05 p.m.

This post was updated July 9 at 8:47 p.m.

Susan Aparicio gives memories of an eternal life in the stars.

The alumnus’ “Stellar Remnants” is on display at LaPau Gallery until July 15. Aparicio said the stained glass and video exhibit is an homage to messages and memories of her loved ones displayed with stars. Aparicio’s first solo exhibition, “Stellar Remnants,” is rooted in her memory of loss and reflection on the death of three of her relatives. The exhibit is based on the broadcasts of each of those three funerals, she said.

“Stars are so eternal to us because they’re so far away, and there’s so many of them that when one of them dies we don’t really notice, but they’re always shining, and that’s how I feel like it is with us too,” Aparicio said. “The stars in my installation are reflecting these videos that are from 20 or 30 years ago.”

Included in her exhibit are other videos of her family along with the films about the funerals to show something beautiful that wasn’t related to death, she said. She said the collection takes inspiration from the science of stars, such as stellar remnants, which are part of the life of a star.

“They both (the broadcasts) are three different ways to try to bring connection to these fears, these passings, these people, your loved ones, but they’re also very distant,” Aparicio said. “So that’s why I was thinking a lot about stars.”

[Related: ‘In between letting out and holding in’: Eunice Choi’s exploration of emotions]

The exhibit consists of two separate rooms with the main room, which is devoid of windows, creating a dark atmosphere where Aparicio said she created her “Tears” piece. The two-dimensional piece contains two sets of eyes with glass tears that connect the eyes. As a dedication to both her grandmothers, the piece connects the matriarchs’ tears, as she said they died close in time to each other. She created the first “Tears” piece during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the loneliness and isolation she was feeling, and she said the piece on display now is a continuation of the “Tears” series.

Within the second room, a big window creates a bright space with a main stained glass piece titled “Arrival,” Aparicio said. Inspired by Los Angeles, it features a skyline of downtown LA with stars descending, resembling a doomsday event, she said. The incomparable thing about these objects falling to earth is that their true nature is unknown – it could be aliens, imminent doom or something good, she said, yet it is also beautiful.

“It’s (the falling stars) a beautiful thing that you might see,” Aparicio said. “But you also know it’s like this impending death.”

(From left to right) Centauri, Aquarii and Cygni are three stained glass and mirror pieces part of "Stellar Remnants." Aparicio said the exhibit is based off three different funerals for her loved ones. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)
(From left to right) Centauri, Aquarii and Cygni are three stained glass and mirror pieces part of “Stellar Remnants.” Aparicio said the exhibit is based off three different funerals for her loved ones. (Jenny Xu/Daily Bruin)

Accompanying “Arrival” are two fused glass pieces with an image of Jesus and angels to welcome the end of the world, she said. Paulina Lara, the gallerist at LaPau Gallery, said she was interested in showing Aparicio’s art because of the conversation she created within her glasswork about the intersection of science and religion through Aparicio’s college education and religious upbringing.

“’Stellar Remnants’ is kind of looking through this liminal space between science and religion,” Lara said. “She’s (Aparicio’s) having these conversations about, ‘What is our memory? Where do we go when we transcend to the next part of our life?’”

[Related: Influenced by his educational journey, Aidan Strong redefines what games can be]

In this installation, she displayed the film for “Stellar Remnants” on the ceiling and in the shape of a star to make it more playful, Aparicio said. Her desire to explore familial stories came from her thesis film about her father, an alien UFO searcher, she said. She was searching for more content to base her video work on, she said, and stumbled upon the recordings of the funerals, which sparked her interest in creating art surrounding those events.

Monica Juarez, an alumnus and former student whom Aparicio was a teaching assistant for, said Aparicio has a talent for taking large concepts like space and science and encouraging people to look differently at people’s space in the world and the customs created by them through her art. Ultimately, Aparicio said she hopes people look at this exhibit and get a sense of beauty, despite most of the inspiration coming from death.

“It’s very beautiful to be able to really witness something, not just in the present but kind of forever,” Aparicio said. “It’s nice that some people can see my works and find some kind of pleasantness.”

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