Art that’s out of this world


One of the art pieces by artist Sienna Orlando-Lalaguna. Photo credit: Sean Martens

Imagine traveling through space visiting strange planets; your mission is to catalog the aliens you find there. Coming across the creatures responsible for growth on these planets, a field guide is compiled complete with sketches and blurbs about each creature.

This mission is similar to the mental journey, artist and Chico State Fine-Arts instructor, Trevor Lalaguna embarked upon while collaborating with his wife, ceramicist and marketing personal, Sienna Orlando-Lalaguna.

Orlando-Lalaguna’s muted yet colorful ceramic landscapes paired with Lalaguna’s black and white drawings of otherworldly creatures line the train car café that is Great Northern Coffee. There is a written element of the show called “Voyanic: Alt Beings,” which serves as a field guide for Lalaguna’s creatures.

“We wanted to do an experimental and collaborative show that would be illustrative, but also have a sci-fi edge to it,” Orlando-Lalaguna said. “The first thing I thought of was ‘planet gardens’. It evolved from there.”

Orlando-Lalaguna’s work came first because ceramics take more time as they need to dry and fire in a kiln. Lalaguna felt like he was collaborating more with his wife’s work itself.

“In the end, I was feeding off her ideas. I wanted to create work that would contrast, but also compliment what she was doing,” Lalaguna said.

Their collaborative installation showcasing Orlando-Lalaguna’s ceramics and Lalaguna’s drawings is entitled “Voyanic”. The word “Voyanic” is a hybrid of the words “voyage” and “organic”.

“I realized I was voyeuristically spying on her and what she was making. I was creating these weird little creatures that were my own, but were inspired by her work,” Lalaguna said. “She would go to bed and then I would look at her objects, take pictures of them, go into my studio and create these creatures which inhabit these landscapes.”

Voyanic is a union of the abstract and the concrete. Orlando-Lalaguna’s landscapes collage together different ideas visually to create alien landscapes that are widely open to interpretation. Lalaguna’s creatures that inhabit these distant planets are the result of constructing a narrative and purpose for each of them.

Other than being influenced by artists like Rat Fink and William Morris, their garden served as one of the biggest inspirations for this installation as well as different places around Chico. When it comes to the role their art plays in the local community, they agree that art isn’t only a reflection the community, but serves as a visual conversation.

“I think arts in general, is an indicator of culture. Just being inspired by plants is very indicative of Northern California. Farmer’s market culture and farm-to-table culture are very important to us,” Orlando-Lalaguna said. “We’re not linked to the Catholic Church or the societal hierarchy of the ancient Pharos; we’re allowed to pull inspiration from anything we want.”

“I like to show work to get a reaction. I want to see what people are thinking about my work. I think art is about visual discussion,” said Lalaguna. “Creativity is a gift and also kind of a burden, but it’s a wonderful burden.”

Orlando-Lalaguna argued that it certainly isn’t wonderful when something explodes in the Kiln.

“But the creativity happens before and after that process,” Lalaguna argued. “Maybe those broken pieces become something you epoxy together to make something wonderful. That’s the creativity in you.”

Voyanic will be on display at Great Northern Coffee for the rest of September 2016.

Anna Porretta can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_arts on Twitter.