Furniture Becomes Conceptual Sculpture: Meet CCA's Joy Umali

Before moving to San Francisco to attend CCA, Joy Umali (Furniture 2010) was working in southern California as a civil engineer. Attributing her decision to earn a second bachelor’s degree to a long-standing interest in both engineering and the fine arts, Joy’s mathematical background still shines through in the structural integrity and precise construction of her furniture pieces.

In her most recent work, Joy distorts familiar objects, often removing their utility and conventional refinement, asking her viewers, “How is this still a chair?” By breaking down old furniture, altering its anatomy and re-creating something at once recognizable and surreal, she infuses narrative into static fixtures and challenges viewers’ concept of the everyday.

“There’s beauty in that tearing apart,” says Joy. “It’s interesting to me because everyone knows what they’re supposed to do with furniture. Or, I guess, we think we know [laughs].”