California State University, Long Beach
Inside CSULB Logo

Siegel’s “Overland 14″ Finds Home In Museum Of Contemporary Art

Published: June 3, 2013

School of Art’s Fran Siegel recently saw her large-scale paper collage work “Overland 14” acquired by Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

“I’m very pleased by MOCA’s acquisition of ‘Overland 14,’” said Siegel, a member of the university since 2002 who is known for her light-driven drawings and installations. “It is from a series that reflects the construction and deconstruction of urban environments like Los Angeles. Stemming from a series of photographs, the drawings represent a city with multiple layers of organization.”

Before joining CSULB, Siegel taught painting for four summers in Venice while at New York’s Pratt Institute, where she taught painting and drawing during the academic year. She received her BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and her MFA in 1987 from Yale.

Her “Overland” series that began in 2007 is informed by Los Angeles. “The drawings are all large in scale measuring at least 12-foot square,” she said. “My work investigates light moving through space. These drawings portray perceptual movement and peripheral vision. I’m fascinated by human organization of urban centers. I begin with aerial images that allow me to see everything at once.”

Pieced together from countless fragments of paper, Dura-Lar and cyanotype photographs, Siegel maps how a landscape is experienced beyond how it looks.

Siegel’s work has taken her all over the world including a Centre of Contemporary Art Fellowship to Mallorca, Spain, earlier this year before attending the Venice Biennial. In June 2012, she received a Siena Art Institute Summer Residency Fellowship.

Siegel was invited to be a visiting artist in Siena as part of a combination fellowship and school opening related to the Getty Foundation. She also has received fellowships from the Getty California Community Foundation and the city of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Working in her Italian studio, she began to create large-scale drawings that mapped the accumulation of walls that circled the Renaissance capital from the medieval period to the 1600s.

“Much of my work is site specific in that it is linked to its location and the information generated from that specific place,” she said.

“Navigation” documents her exploration of Genoa during her Bogliasco Foundation fellowship. Combining elements of landscape imagery, topographical information, patterns based on antique maps, impressions gathered while moving through the city and allusions to Christopher Columbus (a ship hovers near the bottom of the drawing), she created a multidimensional portrait of a port town very different from Long Beach.

“I’m interested in disintegration and lightness,” she said. “The idea of negotiating with a space or location and capturing light as a way to make changes in appearance is a way to make something less than 100 percent visible all the time. Trying to make something that disappears actually have a voice is what women go through as people all the time.”

In Los Angeles, her work has been seen at ACME, LA Louver, Otis, Roberts and Tilton, the Pasadena Armory, the Long Beach Museum of Art and the Laguna Art Museum. Internationally, her art has shown in the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv; the Muzeum Stzuki in Lodz, Poland; Nuova Icona in Venice; the American Academy in Rome; and the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa. Published reviews of her work include Art in America, Art News, Asian Art News, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, Art New England, ArtWeek, and arts and sculpture magazines.

Fran Siegel Art

Siegel likes the idea of working in different places and especially in different countries. “I am interested in learning how various populations occupy the landscape in such different ways. My students’ roots stem from so many different parts of the world,” she said. “Part of my role as a teacher is being able to articulate multiple perspectives. The ability to know what is going on in the art world allows me to inform my students. Travel is important to my work in the classroom. Today’s art world is global, not local. I see myself as a very rigorous instructor who demands a lot of my students but gives back more.”

Many of her works are driven by their locations and scale can make exhibitions a challenge. “Some are not easily transportable,” she said. “Therefore for me to have my work visible in large-scale exhibits is really important.”

Siegel looks ahead to a pair of projects in October. A solo drawing exhibit featuring 50 four-foot-square translucent drawings installed in an overlapping configuration bows at the UC Santa Barbara Art, Design and Architecture Museum followed by a solo exhibition of new drawings and suspended sculptures in New York at the Lesley Heller Work Space. Also due later this fall is a commission for a new work at the U.S. Consulate in Ecuador as part of the Arts in the Embassy program, a public-private partnership engaging over 20,000 participants globally including artists, museums, galleries, universities and private collectors in more than 200 venues in 189 countries. Siegel has begun work on a suspended 25-foot piece in a revolving stairway on her way to creating another signature light-filled space tailored to a specific site.

Siegel has taught worldwide and thinks that CSULB students are incredibly talented and diverse. “I have enjoyed exposing them to more and more ideas and I have learned that, if students are exposed to a lot of outside-the-box ideas, they will respond,” she said. “We have had an enormous success rate for students exhibiting their work and studying at campuses like Yale, Tyler, UCLA, Columbia and Rutgers. I think that has a lot to do with the high ambitions CSULB has for its students.”