She is a designer for the Harvard Advocate, the art director of the Harvard Lampoon (a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine), and one of The Crimson’s 15 Seniors You Should Meet Before You Graduate—and she just hosted her own solo art show at the Harvard Monday Gallery on March 11. Kayla A. Escobedo ’12-’13 incorporated part of her thesis for her concentration in visual and environmental studies into a show entitled “KaylaTV,” which featured a series of three-second GIFs of one of her cartoon characters acted out by a person wearing a larger-than-life mask. "KaylaTV" is the third show as well as the first solo exhibition in the Harvard Monday Gallery, which Escobedo founded with Danny R. Bredar ’14, Avery A. Leonard ’14-’15 , Meryl F. Natow ’13, and Oliver Luo ’13 last spring.
Escobedo made all of the aspects of the video from scratch and modeled the main character after an old cartoon character of hers. The clips were then projected onto a series of textured surfaces placed around the room, from an armchair to plexiglass to a TV.
After having worked with the same character in comics, Escobedo was drawn to the idea of looped, animated clips to express herself. “I became interested in GIFs after I began thinking about a series of 3D comic cubes I had made. These cubes were meant to be read in the round and had a loop to the narrative, so you could walk around in any direction and there could be meaning or disjointed narrative gleaned from the experience at any point," Escobedo says. Her inspiration was clear in the show, as the viewer could walk around and view the GIFs in their projected orientation—from looking at the video projected onto the textured surfaces—and then sit in the armchair and observe a GIF's mirror image reflected in the plexiglass. "This idea of my character being stuck in a loop was then transformed into the character being glitched in technology, which was when the GIF came about as the perfect form to facilitate the evolution of these ideas,” Escobedo says.
Though the show represents a large part of her thesis, Escobedo cites different groups of artists as inspirations for "KaylaTV" and for her thesis. For "KaylaTV" in particular, she was influenced by artists such as Vito Acconci and Tony Oursler, she says. Her thesis, however, was partly inspired by a somewhat different source. “I also watch a lot of daytime television, which directly influences my ideas,” Escobedo says.
The two projects differ not simply in their inspirations, however: "KaylaTV" is affected by its mode of presentation. “The show was more of an exploration of a specific group of pieces from that project, responding to the gallery space. While the work in the show is a part of my thesis, I saw the show itself as taking on a more independent form more closely related to the expansion of ideas and experimentation within the Harvard Monday Gallery,” Escobedo says.
As a graduating senior, Escobedo plans to take time off before graduate school, moving back to her home state of Texas to continue her art there in her own studio. However, she does plan on investigating the art scene on the West Coast as well, perhaps interning in a museum or working as an artist assistant. “Plans tend to change, but I’m hoping to go to graduate school after a few years of doing my own thing,” Escobedo says.
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Escobedo Ignites 'Fire' with Solo ShowAbstract figures pulsating with symbolism and emotion; imagery as macabre as it is mesmerizing; dynamic conflagrations of texture and detail: these are the elements of “Ladders to Fire,” a transfixing exhibition of the work of Kayla A. Escobedo ’12.