Words, Words, Words: Language as a Material

Alexandra Cantle's work at the Porch Gallery

Alexandra Cantle’s work at the Porch Gallery

The work of Alexandra Cantle at Porch Gallery

By Demitri Corbin

Having heard about Alexandra Cantle’s work, I was both eager and intrigued to attend her opening at The Porch Gallery. The show, Language as a Material, drew an enthusiastic crowd to view Cantle’s work  in which she shares her experience and understanding of people with dyslexia.

I was intrigued for my own reasons, having had signs of dyslexia in elementary school, as well as coming across many students with various learning disabilities in my teaching. I wondered how art would convey the experience.

But the gallery was packed!  Patrons puzzled in front of pieces and the den of conversation seemed to be amplified by the words on the walls.  Before I had a chance to take in the work, I got a chance to chat with Ms. Cantle about her subject matter.

Young, talented and energetic, Ms. Cantle exemplifies the emerging contemporary artists the Porch Gallery curators Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni are introducing.  Originally from Ojai, she now lives in Los Angeles.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art from the University of California and a Masters of Fine Art in Public Practice for Otis College of Art and Design.

And the passion she has put into her work is apparent in some of the reactions I witnessed from gallery patrons.  I stood with a couple of friends in front of the piece, “Process,” a 4-paneled piece which shows the distorted word.  My friend could not shake the frustration of wanting a 5th panel to show the word pristine and perfect, “like it should be.”  I informed her that that was what the artist intended.

Ms. Cantle’s work is both engaging and thought provoking.  It gives insight into a human condition of which many people are not aware and it sparks dialogue.

On Saturday, January 25 at 1 p.m., in collaboration with the “Language as a Material” exhibit, artist Tamarind Rossetti will lead an interactive project; an hour-long workshop on Language as material.

Workshop participants will experiment with language and explore ways to open up space and time, in the stories we tell.  The outcome of the participatory project will be on view for the continuation of the show through February 7.


The Porch Gallery is located at 310 E. Matilija St. in Ojai.  For more information visit www.porchgalleryojai.com.

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