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Isabella Huffington Takes Millennial’s Look at World
Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Isabella Huffington’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” are like looking at a kaleidoscope.

From a distance they resemble colorful kaleidoscopes that appear to be abstract paintings or mixed media pieces made up of extremely detailed geometric patterns. When viewers zoom in up close, they resemble kaleidoscopes filled with exhausting repetitions of tiny pictures of everyday objects like Lincoln pennies and champagne bottles.

“You can get lost in them,” said Gallery Owner Andria Friesen. “They’re evocative and exquisite. It hurts  my eyes to look at them when I think of the work involved just in cutting them, organizing them, gluing them. How many images do you think are in there? Thousands! Has to be!”

Friesen began representing Huffington soon after Huffington graduated from Yale University in 2014 with a degree in art history.

She hung seven of the young artist’s works in her gallery on Sun Valley Road this week in honor of Isabella’s mother—Arianna Huffington of “Huffington Post” fame—kicking off the 20th annual Sun Valley Wellness Festival with a keynote speech Friday night.

Isabella’s works will be on exhibit at Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley Road and First Avenue in Ketchum, through June 10.

Isabella Huffington said she has long been drawn to the pop art movement and its focus on everyday objects and processes, such as stamps and hole punching.

She has tried to capture the political moments we’re living through with collages featuring the eyes of American soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, newspaper headlines of mass shootings and pieces acknowledging Hillary Clinton’s efforts to become America’s first female president. She’s given the latter  such names as “Pantsuit Nation,” “With Her” and “The Glass Ceiling Breaks--The Glass Ceiling Holds.”

Others are time capsules of the current cultural landscape. Among them, one employing excerpts from the OkCupid online dating website featuring what New Yorkers look for in a date.

Her collages in the Friesen Gallery exhibition include one titled “Portrait of a Millennial,” inspired by Buddhist art—in particular, mandalas. Huffington said she uses repetition and the exploration of one image or detail to create opportunities to pause and reflect.

“In our tech-addicted world, where speed is glorified, I want to create art that brings serenity and wonder into people’s lives,” she said.

“Portrait of a Girl” features tiny pieces like T-shirts with hearts and time pieces. Two pieces were created with tiny slivers of landscapes depicting Glacier Bay and Sicily, Italy.

“Stirling” is comprised of images of quarters, motorcycles, checkerboards and more, while still “Sabrina” features items like high-top sneakers, champagne bottles, gemstones and clocks.

And “American Gold Rush” is divided into four squares with two of those squares featuring copper-colored Lincoln pennies repeating themselves in varying sizes.

“The vision and the patience—she’s brilliant,” said Friesen. “She’s compulsive—and she says that. When I visited her in her studio in New York she said, ‘I’m meticulously compulsive.’ ”

Huffington praised her mother for encouraging her in her work:

“Since I’ve been a kid, she’s basically let me completely destroy my entire bedroom. I put paint on the walls and colored. At one point, I glued sponges. So she really let me experiment.”

Huffington said her mother also cautioned her that you have to knock on a lot of doors before things work out.

“So you just keep going. It’s like a task. A bunch of tiny thing will lead to a big thing. It’s not one thing that changes everything. So you have to do a million different things before the right thing comes along,” she said.

Friesen said it’s interesting to note that Isabella Huffington is a Millennial. Typically, Millennials don’t own things—they rent their apartments and eschew cars in favor of Uber and other public transportation. And they don’t typically buy art because they don’t have a wall to hang it on.

“So art being created by a Millennial is different and fresh and exciting,” Friesen said. “It involves things like Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat to explore traditional genre.”


The traditional Memorial Day Gallery Walk was shelved this year because of three keynote speakers at this year’s Sun Valley Wellness Festival.

“There just was no room to fit it in,” said Friesen Gallery Owner Andria Friesen.

Arianna Huffington will give the keynote speech Friday night. Seed Saver Vandana Shiva will talk Saturday night, and Wayne Pacelle, director of the Humane Society of the United States, will talk Sunday night (www.sunvalleywellness.org).

The next Gallery Walk will be held over the Fourth of July weekend.

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