Totems in Indigo, Commissioned by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art Program

Permanent Collection 2013




TOTEMS IN INDIGO, by Bari Ziperstein Commissioned by the LOS ANGELES COUNTY ARTS COMMISSION CIVIC ART PROGRAM TOTEMS IN INDIGO is a series of temporary, site-specific sculptures at Arcadia Community Regional County Park that mark the entrance of the newly constructed Norman S. Johnson Aquatic Center.

Historically, wooden totem poles were erected to represent protective spirits of ancestors, record ancient and oral traditions, and to indicate the boundaries of a village. Original totem animals reveal supernatural power through animal-human fusions, which shape-shift between human and animal worlds. In TOTEMS IN INDIGO, Bari Ziperstein created four human-scale sculptures that are suggestive of these historic works. Ziperstein’s totems include hand-carved ceramic Chinese Zodiac animal heads commemorating the months of the artwork’s exhibition, each with a luminous glaze inspired by 14th century blue and white Chinese pottery. The animal heads stacked and draped with indigo-dyed tote bags and woven pool rope, creating fragmented totem poles that are at once surreal, powerful, and celebratory.

As an integral part TOTEMS IN INDIGO, Niki Livingston of the Lookout & Wonderland studio led a Japanese indigo dying workshop for the community. Indigo is one of the world’s oldest natural blue dyes. Participants dyed canvas tote bags that the artist then incorporated into these eclectic sculptures. In a public deinstallation event, the sculptures will be deconstructed and the bags will be given back to the community. Each tote will be affixed a leather commemorative patch marking its participation in this temporary public project, furthering Ziperstein’s gesture of hope and promise to the community of Arcadia.

Special thanks to the Los Angeles County Arts Commission County of Los Angeles Parks & Recreation, Project Managers Rebecca Ansert and Erik Qvale, Niki Livingston, Indigo Dyers, and Photographer David Eaves.

Bari Ziperstein is a site-specific sculptor, public artist, and designer who lives and works in Los Angeles. Utilizing a collage aesthetic, her artistic practice draws attention to the way various built environments, ranging from architectural to consumer-oriented constructions, relate to desire and aspiration. She received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.