Welcoming pop surrealism cityscape art to ‘Berg

A new exhibit titled “Welcome to the Neighborhood” features digital collages by &drew Soria.

'Mementos of Los Angeles' by featured artist Andrew Soria. Courtesy of @martinartgallery on Instagram.

The art exhibition “Welcome to the Neighborhood” by &drew Soria (Andrew Soria) opened on Nov. 27 at the Martin Art Gallery and will be viewable until Jan. 5. The exhibit features large scale prints of Soria’s digital collages of various cities or specific neighborhoods through a pop surrealism cityscape lens. 

Soria is a photographer and digital pop surrealist based in Los Angeles, Calif. His work highlights the vibrant culture, uncommon and colorful architecture of different cities and neighborhoods he travels to. His goal is to be able to capture the ambiance of the city. 

Pop surrealism cityscape, according to Soria’s website, consists of combining original photographs that Soria has taken and blending the photographs into a digital collage using Adobe Photoshop. Each collage Soria makes is unique and is able to convey the diversity and the distinctive characteristics of each city or neighborhood he wants to showcase. Soria’s exhibit currently held at Muhlenberg is able to transport those who have visited cities such as New York or Miami Beach into the past as Soria is able to evoke a sense of nostalgia in his works. 

The virtual artist talk and open reception was held on Nov. 29. During the talk, Soria walked through the basics of Photoshop and showed how one collage can have hundreds of layers, or different photographs, together. When asked how he picks and chooses the location of each landmark in the collage, he said that “the layout shapes itself… you just start to put the pieces together like a puzzle.” 

Soria continued, saying,  “I tend to photograph things that look interesting or iconic. I’m kind of drawn to older architecture, I try not to take pictures of things that are too new.” One of his pieces,  “Chinatown” (LA 2020) is posted on Muhlenberg’s website. Soria delved into the history of Chinatown and mentioned that “Chinatown was originally built by white people. They built pagodas thinking this is what China would look like, even though it was actually only used for religious purposes.” 

Jessica Ambler, Martin Art Gallery director, curated this exhibit. When in discussion with The Weekly, Ambler said that she “first encountered Andrew Soria’s work in the summer of 2021 when I was working for Loupe, a visual art streaming service. I was immediately drawn to his brightly colored cityscapes in a style that the artist calls ‘pop surrealism.’ I also found his process impressive. To create one of his works, Soria begins by photographing a city or a specific neighborhood, such as Venice Beach, trying to capture the spirit of the place through its built environment. He then takes hundreds of these photos and begins to build a comprehensive collage by combining and layering small portions of the photographs in Adobe photoshop (one image can have hundreds of layers).” 

In regards to the installation process of Soria’s work, Ambler commented that “Soria’s images are very high resolution, so if you’re looking at them on a computer, you can zoom in to see minute details. I think this same effect is conveyed by the very large scale prints that we made for the show. I hope that visitors take the time to look closely in order to appreciate the fine details that make up one of his works. If anyone has lived– or even visited– New York City, Los Angeles or Miami, they will be able to identify many of the buildings and landmarks that Soria includes in his images. The works are also time capsules in a sense because they document what a city looks like at a specific moment in time, creating a sense of nostalgia for earlier iterations of our rapidly evolving urban centers.” 
Lizard Foley ‘24 is the Lead Gallery Assistant this semester. Foley said that “I primarily helped in the selection of the pieces through discussion with [Ambler] the gallery director, and the artist.  I really like what Soria does with this work. His cityscapes are immediately recognizable due to key landmarks he uses, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Guggenheim in New York, while at the same time not accurately representing the city at all. He creates dream versions of the places he photographs by combining the very real photos into amalgamations of recognizable symbols.”


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