In her first exhibition at ZieherSmith, California native Allison Schulnik presents thickly impastoed paintings, porcelain ceramic sculptures and the widely anticipated debut of her sixth and most complex animated film, MOUND.

In her paintings and sculptures, Schulnik’s lurching, world-weary figures mingle with feline memorials among landscapes teeming with over-ripe blooms – densely painted and hand-molded visions entreating woolgathering and sympathy. “My fixation on these characters is not intended to exploit deficiencies, but to find valor in adversity. Hobo clowns, misshapen animals or alien beasts, they are typically built upon a human frame, drawing from film and dance. I like to blend earthly fact, blatant fiction and lots of oil paint to form a stage of tragedy, farce, and raw, ominous beauty -- at times capturing otherworld buffoonery, and other times presenting a simple earthly dignified moment.” (Interview with the artist)

While the paintings and sculptures are single commemorative moments, the film MOUND is a vast celebration of the moving painting. It is a macabre wandering with subjects choreographed in emotive gesture and movement. The line is blurred between the material elements of art-making (texture, color, form) and the physicality of ballet and theater.

Created solely by the artist and featuring over 100 hand-sculpted and sewn puppets, the labor-intensive piece took nearly eight months, at times requiring 2 hours to create a single frame. The intricacies of the work cannot be perceived in a single viewing. The musical accompaniment to the film is “It’s Raining Today” graciously lent by legendary singer-songwriter Scott Walker. Originally released in 1969, the moody melodramatic song perfectly reflects the simultaneous solidarity and isolation in her world of “rejects, misfits and their landscapes.”

Schulnik received her degree in experimental animation from CalArts and lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Her films, paintings, and sculptures have been exhibited widely, including recent shows at the St. Louis Contemporary Museum; Garage Center, Moscow; Nerman Museum, Kansas; Hammer Museum Flux Screenings, Los Angeles, and many other museum and gallery exhibitions. In 2013, she will have a solo exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum, California.