Aili Schmellz: Sewn Constructions


Edward Cella Gallery proudly presents Aili Schmeltz: Sewn Constructions and features her newest works which combine painting, collage, and sewing to create all together new hybrids in her continued fundamental investigation of pattern and form. Conflating notions of traditional “woman’s work” and the mark-making practices and monochromatic pallet of Minimalist painters; these wall-based sculptures dazzle in their subtle radiance and undulation of color. Sewn Constructions represents her second exhibition with the gallery and will run concurrently with an installation of her works on paper at The Landing gallery in Los Angeles.

The research-based practice of Aili Schmeltz often alludes to utopian ideologies that inform the development of the American West and the vast artificial environments of Southern California in particular. Schmeltz initially focused the new series on historical female figures who were trailblazer in the exploration, settlement, and preservation of the Mojave Desert – a landscape where the artist resides part time and is a constant source of fascination and inspiration. As the series developed Schmeltz began to see the new typological and spatial colonization that the hybrid artworks represent as a lens to consider a greater range of historical women of California who were leaders in the struggle for equality including advocacy for Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans, LGBTQIA+, and Women’s suffrage.

Referencing historical figures like Grace Finley, June Paxton, and Melissa Branson Stedman; Schmeltz honors pioneering woman who undertook gender-breaking roles as miners, explorers, writers, and activists. One work is titled after 19th-century African American entrepreneur, financier, real estate magnate and abolitionist Mary Ellen Pleasant (1814- 1904) who expanded the Underground Railroad westward and achieved legal victories for civil rights that have enduring relevance earning her the title, "The Mother of Human Rights in California." Another work is a tribute to the avid gardener and desert conservation advocate Minerva Hamilton Hoyt (1866-1945) who championed the creation of Joshua Tree National Park that became reality in 1936. Together the series is a reexamination of tapestry of our historical fabric, recognizing progressive females whose legacies precede enormous changes in the role, recognition, and power of women today.


Aili Schmeltz lives and works in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, CA. She received her MFA from the University of Arizona and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. Solo exhibitions include Espronceda Center for Art and Culture, Barcelona, Spain (2017), Grand Central Art Center, California State University Fullerton, CA (2013); Prescott College Art Gallery, Arizona (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, Arizona (2011); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha (2008). Group exhibitions include Friedman Benda Gallery, New York (2014); The Hoxton Gallery, London (2014); Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, California (2014); Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles (2013); Galeria La Miscelanea, Puebla, Mexico (2013); Zatoka Sztuki, Sopot, Poland (2012); Asihlquaiss Offspace, Zurich, Switzerland (2011); and Golden Parachutes Gallery, Berlin (2009). She is the recipient of awards such as the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia in 2015, the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Arts in 2013, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants, New York as well as the Creative Capacity Fund Grant of San Francisco in 2011, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2009.

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Thomas Lavin is a leader in bringing an international range of exclusive high-end home furnishings, fabrics, lighting, and accessories to Los Angeles. Founded in the year 2000 by Los Angeles Native Thomas Lavin. Over the years the Pacific Design Center showroom has grown to 19,000 square feet—including an additional 4,000 sq ft added in early 2019—which encompasses a stand-alone showroom for French heritage brand Liaigre. To better serve his clientele in Orange County, San Diego and the dessert communities, Lavin opened a showroom at the Laguna Design Center in 2014.


Edward Cella Art & Architecture is committed to supporting significant established, mid-career, and emerging artists, architects, and designers. Nurturing this hybridity, the gallery uniquely exhibits photography, painting, sculpture, architectural drawings, models, and design objects with an emphasis on the intersection of these disciplines. Edward Cella founded Edward Cella Art & Architecture in 2006, building on his background as an architectural historian with a decade of experience in art advisory and collection management and a passion for collecting architectural drawings and ephemera, as well as contemporary art and erotica. The gallery sustains a curatorial emphasis on discourses surrounding issues of cultural and conceptual significance and has represented historical and under-recognized estates and collections.

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