On the Line

Art exhibitions celebrating laundry open at Riverside Public Library branches

Choreographers Casey Auvant and Sue Roginski lead dancers in a 2015 performance at the Afterimage Gallery as part of the On the Line program. The gallery was developed as a stage for performances and a site for events like “story circles” that involved the public. Cultural anthropology students recorded the public's stories, which appeared in some of the performances, notably a musical composition by UCR graduate student Dhiren Panikker.

Choreographers Casey Auvant and Sue Roginski lead dancers in a 2015 performance at the Afterimage Gallery as part of the On the Line program. The gallery was developed as a stage for performances and a site for events like “story circles” that involved the public.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Artists who for three years have explored what laundry tells us about beauty, culture and relationships will celebrate new legislation that makes clotheslines legal in California with three outdoor exhibitions and performances at branches of the Riverside Public Library this spring.

Art installations from participants in On the Line, a program developed by UC Riverside anthropology professor and artist Susan Ossman, have been set up at the Arlanza, La Sierra and Casa Blanca libraries. They include original artworks, slide shows and videos about the project, bilingual books that tell the story of the project, and a laundry puzzle that children can play with, Ossman said.

Artists, dancers, musicians, poets and storytellers will present full-fledged exhibitions and performances at library branches over the next three months. The first event will be at Arlanza, noon to 4 p.m. on March 5. The artists will engage the public and collect their “laundry stories.” new work that draws on the public’s stories will be presented at La Sierra on April 15 and Casa Blanca on May 21.

On the Line explores the practice of washing and drying laundry to show connections between art and the gestures, colors and sounds of ordinary activities, Ossman explained.

Laundry strung across balconies and terraces inspired a painting by Ossman, who directs UC Riverside’s Global Studies Program, when she was living in Morocco. When she moved to California Ossman found that her own clothes on the line surprised her neighbors. This led her to contemplate what clotheslines show about changing relationships to nature and other people. She developed paintings, drawings and installations on these themes for an exhibition at the Brandstater Gallery in 2013. Drawing on innovative interdisciplinary collaborative methods, she created On the Line with UCR anthropology graduate students and artists.

“Can laundry be beautiful? Meaningful? What might clothes hanging on a line teach use about wealth, poverty or our relationship to the environment? What about the relations between men and women, or across cultures or generations? The artists, dancers, musicians and spoken word performers of On the Line began exploring these questions in 2013,” Ossman said. “Their exhibition and performances at the Brandstater and Afterimage galleries in Riverside encourages audiences to share their thoughts and memories. The archive of their stories inspired new art, dance, music and spoken word performance.”

Assembly Bill 1448, which took effect Jan. 1, now requires property managers to allow renters and homeowner association members to string clotheslines in private areas.

On the Line exhibitions in Riverside branch libraries are made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts with the support of the Riverside Public Library, the University of California, Riverside and the Riverside Arts Council.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
Twitter: bettyemiller

Additional Contacts

Susan Ossman
Tel: (951) 827-1264
E-mail: susan.ossman@ucr.edu

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