March 9 2015 06:43 PM

They show off new projects and works in the studios where they're conceived

Audrey Hope
Photo by Seth Combs

Every year, dozens of UCSD grad-student artists, working in every conceivable medium, open the doors to their studios to show off what they've been doing. The annual UCSD Open Studios, which happened this past weekend, has consistently been a great opportunity to get a glimpse into what could be the future of the local art scene. That might be a bit declarative, but considering that I've discovered some of my favorite artists here—people like Ash Eliza Smith, Joe Yorty, Tim Schwartz and Crystal Z. Campbell (who has a solo show up at HB Punto Experimental in Barrio Logan through April 25)—I like to think it's a rare opportunity to see tomorrow's artists today. 

Audrey Hope's collage-style pieces dealt with her experiences in the desert and around Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain. One piece that Hope described as a "beach installation" was like a double-sided Jackson Pollock painting, made out of everything from tinsel to yarn. 

Another highlight was Heidi Kayser's startling Seen and Not Heard series, a collection of amoebic, hand-sewn works that use pins and pantyhose to give the pieces an eerie, almost skin-like tone, meant to "blur the lines between animate and inanimate," she says. 

If you attended Art San Diego in November, you probably remember Collective Magpie. Their gigantic "Weightless Lounge" (made from striped plastic bags and zip ties) served as the show's centerpiece and hangout spot. Their new project, "Globos," looks just as ambitious, with the duo (Tae Hwang and MR Barnadas) constructing a fleet of hot-air balloons in a series of youth workshops to be launched at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Other highlights included Stefani Byrd's video work, which involved a preview of a piece called "i want to be private" that integrates video and computing elements to "create a real-time interaction between a human and a digital surrogate." And Lucas Coffin's video and photographic work was so interesting that it was only somewhat overshadowed by an entire wall covered in scratcher lottery tickets. Finally, Encinitas native Kara Joslyn's Geometric Solids and Variations and Transmission series of paintings had me mesmerized for what seemed like hours. 

I hope to get lost again when UCSD's juried MFA show opens in June. Until then, check out some of what I'm talking about at

Email or follow Seth on Twitter at @combsseth.


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