lumber room

Monday, August 10, 2020

ektor garcia, manos Cu

image caption: ektor garcia, manos Cu, 2018, copper, leather, copper tape on watercolor paper, steel, copper wire, hammered copper napkin holder from Santa Clara del Cobre Michoacan

ektor garcia
Born 1985, Red Bluff, CA.
Lives and works between Mexico and New York.

ektor garcia’s intricately layered sculptures and installations are grounded in references to the body, touch, and memory. His work combines his interests in queer culture and arts and crafts traditions with strong roots in Mexico. Although from a small town, garcia and his parents, who were migrant farm workers, were constantly on the road during his childhood, exposing him to many different communities in Mexico, California, Oregon, and Washington. garcia’s widespread travels, in addition to his archeological and anthropological research of pre-Hispanic cultures, greatly inform his work.

Often combining ceramics, sewing, welding, embroidery, leather-making, and crocheting with recycled and appropriated materials, garcia’s work eschews and confuses conventional ideas about different materials. For example, copper wire and rough strips of leather may be delicately hooked and woven into lace-like forms. garcia pays homage to the physical work and craft performed throughout different generations of his family. In manos Cu, 2018, the artist engraved an image of his great-great grandmother’s hands on a copper plate, her fingers seeming to send forth intricate crocheted patterns. The myriad forms in the work come together as an altar to work done by hand. In a further gesture of honor to the labor of those who came before him, garcia takes care in learning each technique that he incorporates in his work, with attention to the cultural associations of a certain craft, be it pouring concrete or crocheting, in addition to the practical methods involved. Although the materials may vary widely, they are united by the attention of the artist’s hands.

ektor garcia received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014, and a MFA from Columbia University, New York, in 2016. His work has been exhibited at SculptureCenter, Long Island City, NY (solo, 2019); Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, Hangzhou, China (2019); Casa Luis Barragán, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); LAXART, Los Angeles, CA (2018); Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Mexico (2018); Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (solo, 2018); ACCA, Melbourne, Australia (2018); and New Museum, New York, NY (2017), among other venues. In 2018-2019, garcia was an artist in residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Cornelia Parker, Unsettled (Jerusalem)

image caption: Cornelia Parker, Unsettled (Jerusalem), 2012-2013, wood found on the streets of Jerusalem, wire

Born 1956, Cheshire, England.
Lives and works in London, England.

Throughout the nearly four decades of her artistic career, Cornelia Parker has worked in sculpture, photography, drawing, installation, and film to transform and abstract seemingly ordinary visual structures and everyday forms. Renowned for her vast and immersive installations, Parker often captures the peak of her subject’s transformation, stilling a moment of drama that one would not normally have the opportunity to observe in detail. The artist frequently layers her interest in architecture and its sense of permanence with commentary on environmental issues and society’s fixation on commodity. With these threads, her work inverts those common associations, turning durability into fragility, and structure into the potential of impending collapse. Parker has stated that her work “is constantly unstable, in flux; leant against a wall, hovering, or so fragile it might collapse. Perhaps that’s what I feel, about my own relationship to the world, It is a universal condition, that of vulnerability. We don’t have solid, fixed lives; we’re consistently dealing with what life throws at us.”

In Unsettled (Jerusalem), 2012-2013, as with many of her works, Parker incorporates materials that often go unnoticed. In this case, the artist gathered weathered planks of wood, perhaps once part of a larger structure, such as a shipping palette or piece of furniture, while walking along the street during a trip to Jerusalem. After shipping these overlooked fragments of urban life back to England, she assembled them in a delicate arrangement, each suspended by a carefully planned length of wire, to form a network that floats eerily just above the floor and away from the wall. While the former lives of each wooden plank are unknown, Parker left their surfaces largely as she found them in Jerusalem, some with smaller pieces of wood attached and nails embedded, bearing the cracks and patinas of age and pressure. Alongside notions of vulnerability and destruction, a sense of absurdity pervades the time, effort, and expense apparent in creating the precarious balance of the installation, a dark spot of levity in the midst of constant instability.

Parker’s work has been the subject of significant solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2019); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2018); Palace of Westminster, London (2018); The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016); and Whitechapel Gallery, London (2011, 2008), among many others. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Albertina Museum, Vienna (2019); British Museum, London (2019); The Met Breuer, New York (2019); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2016); The Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2016); and the Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014), among others. In 2010, Parker was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2017, she was appointed as the first female Election Artist for the United Kingdom General Election. In this role, she observed the election campaign leading up to the vote, met with campaigners and voters, and produced artworks in response.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Sonia Gomes, Untitled

image caption: Sonia Gomes, Untitled, from Raiz series, 2018, mooring and sewing on wood

Born 1948, Caetanópolis, Brazil.
Lives and works in São Paulo.

Working with found materials as well as objects gifted to her, Sonia Gomes creates sculptures imbued with memory, tradition, and personal histories. She spent her early childhood in Caetanópolis, a center of Brazil’s textile industry, with her black maternal grandmother who was a midwife and traditional faith healer. From her grandmother, Gomes learned to sew and came to understand the intimacy, love, and warmth that one’s hands can impart through gesture. In tandem, it was through her father’s Portuguese and English family that Gomes developed an appreciation for and knowledge of lace, embroidery, and other textiles. Her work marries an understanding of seemingly divergent narratives: one rooted in ancestral, body-focused traditions, the other in commercial opulence and networks of industry.

Throughout her childhood and early adulthood, Gomes pursued creative expression through drawing and in modifying and embellishing her own clothes. Lending unique and personal details to her clothing was a way for Gomes to find visibility as an Afro-Brazilian woman in a post-colonial society that favored European ideas and histories. From these techniques, desires, and histories emerged Gomes’ often biomorphic sculptures. Her lived understanding of vulnerability and being overlooked by society brought interpretations of skin and the body to the fore in her work. Gomes has said, "I was delighted with drawings of internal organs of the human body that I found in science and biology books. The tissues of the body, the vertebrae, the cartilages and muscles, lost me for hours in the colors and textures, do you know that this reflects my work a lot and nobody has said it? It’s a lot about my interior, about a hidden part of the body, the part that we do not see, my work has a lot of this, a lot of that image, I think my relationship with aesthetics also came first from this imagery."

Largely self-taught as an artist, Gomes is drawn to techniques—folding, cutting, tying, stitching—and materials such as wire, rope, thread, and wood, with which she has been familiar from an early age. Particularly striking in her work are the points of encounter between different materials. Through actions long associated with manual labor and industry, the artist takes materials with previous lives and forms new meanings and values in their junctions. In Untitled, 2018, from Raíz series (“raíz” means “root” in Portuguese), soft tubes wrapped in floral fabric weave their way through natural openings in a found tree stump. Lines of fabric stretch from the point of an upturned tree root down to the floor. Fabric roots of varying widths, patterns, and textures stretch out from the wood roots. Large stitches in contrasting colors wrap around the fabric roots, laying bare the work of the hands that created them.

Gomes’ work has been the subject of group exhibitions at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany (2019); MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo / Casa de Vidro, São Paulo, Brazil (2018); and Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2018). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, UK (2020); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2018); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil (2017); The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2017); and the 56th Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy (2015), among others.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Lee Bontecou, Untitled Relief

image caption: Lee Bontecou, Untitled Relief, 1960, welded steel, canvas and copper wire

Born 1931, Providence, RI.
Lives and works in Orbisonia, PA, and Cedar Key, FL.

Since the 1950s, Lee Bontecou has deployed a compelling visual language to create sculptures and drawings that often combine figurative, natural, and mechanistic references.  While she has eschewed affiliation with any specific artistic movement, Bontecou’s formal and conceptual considerations speak to her admiration of Surrealists such as Alberto Giacometti, to the assemblage practices of Arte Povera, and to the broken and reimagined bodies of Cubism. 

During the 1940s, Bontecou’s parents contributed to the war effort: her mother wired transmitters for navigation, and her father made gliders. Images of machinery and assembly filled her childhood alongside experiences of the natural world, especially the land and seascapes of Nova Scotia, where she spent many summers with her grandmother. With these influences of the organic and the industrial, Bontecou went on to attend the Art Students League in New York, where she studied sculpture and welding and was shortly after awarded a Fulbright fellowship. Her early career saw her drawn to found materials, including discarded conveyor belts and scraps of canvas and wire from a laundry that operated below her apartment. 

In Untitled Relief, 1960, Bontecou embraces the seemingly incongruous realms of machine and nature. With reference to space exploration at the time, a central black hole reaches back beyond the work’s surface into as yet unknown worlds. Like a wildly stepped landscape, geometries of cut canvas shaped by intricate, metal armatures radiate out from the central void. Mottled pieces of fabric, as though darkened and patinated by age and industry, stretch organically across two- and three-dimensional space like skin and with the subtle asymmetries of a living organism. 

In much of Bontecou’s work, the abstracted body, whether of a known or unknown organism, becomes a site at which to question ethical and social issues, contrasting emotions, and the existence of other worlds. Bontecou juxtaposes the fragility and vulnerability of life with humanity's capacity for creation and destruction. In a letter of 1960, Bontecou wrote, "My concern is to build things that express our relation to this country — to other countries — to this world — to other worlds — in terms of myself….To glimpse some of the fear, hope, ugliness, beauty and mystery that exists in us all and which hangs over all the young people today.” With an equitable approach to visualizing the extremes of life, and infinite states in between, Bontecou invites connection across cultural, geographic, and generational barriers. 

Untitled Relief, 1960, was among a group of wall-reliefs included in Bontecou’s first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1960. She was the only female artist represented by Castelli during the 1960s, exhibiting alongside male contemporaries such as Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. 

From the early 1970s until 1991, Bontecou taught in the Art Department at Brooklyn College. In 2003, a major retrospective of her work opened at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Solo exhibitions of her work have also been presented at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Netherlands (2017); The Menil Collection, Houston, TX (2014; traveled to Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ); Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2010); Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY (1993); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (1993); and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL (1972), among many others.

Monday, July 13, 2020

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Momme

image caption: LaToya Ruby Frazier, Momme, 2008, gelatin silver print

Born 1982, Braddock, PA.
Lives and works in Chicago, IL.

Working in photography, video, and performance, LaToya Ruby Frazier frequently collaborates with individuals, families, and communities to address and make visible their experiences of inequality related to healthcare, economic opportunity, environmental degradation, among other issues. Employing modes of portraiture to advocate for others, Frazier makes visible and gives agency to the disenfranchised and their stories through candid images of everyday life. 

Momme, 2008, is an image within Frazier’s series The Notion of Family (2001-2014), in which she focused on her hometown of Braddock, PA, where Andrew Carnegie opened his first steel mill. Once a center of industry and steel production, Braddock experienced a severe economic downturn brought on by the recession of the 1980s, driving many to people to leave the region. Drawn to the legacies of Farm Security Administration photographers such as Walker Evans, Gordon Parks, and Dorothea Lange, as well as to conceptual photographic practices of the 1960s and 70s, Frazier looked to her hometown and members of her own family to illustrate the urgent but largely neglected effects of economic instability there.

In college, Frazier was particularly impacted by Lange’s famous image Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, 1936: “No one ever talked about her and her name,” Frazier has said, “and it made me become very sensitive to subjectivity, and the personal, and a person being able to represent themselves.” Within her commitment to visual representation of the working class, Frazier concentrates in particular on three generations of women in her family — her grandmother, her mother, and herself — to reconsider the ways that African American women are portrayed in popular images. Growing up in the shadow of the steel industry that once sustained Braddock, each of the three women has felt the environmental effects of heavy industrial activity. Frazier’s grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2009. Her mother has also battled cancer as well as a neurological condition. Frazier herself has lupus. Confronting stereotypes of black women as victims or helpless, Frazier depicts their resolve and strength.

Momme is one of several collaborations between Frazier and her mother in which they would take turns holding the camera and deciding on a shot. The two women determine their own positions, simultaneously portraying their strengths and vulnerabilities, their ties and individuality. The title of the image, a conjunction of “mom” and “me,” as well as the position of the two women’s faces—Frazier’s split by her mother’s profile, reference the collaborative nature of the process and, in a broader sense, the memories of trauma, loss, survival, and resolve shared by multiple generations. A similar image depicts the artist and her mother in the same positions but dressed up and with their hair and makeup done. These were initially printed in a smaller scale as editions of 8. As she worked on The Notion of Family, Frazier came to think of Momme, in which she and her mother are seemingly shown in their barest, most unadorned states, as a kind of thesis statement for, or central axis of her entire practice. By increasing the scale of the image in Momme, Frazier further amplifies her attention to visibility. The details of their facial expressions and body language become more apparent, the physical traces of their lived experiences intensified by proximity.

Frazier earned a BFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a MFA from Syracuse University. She also attended the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and was named a Guna S. Mundheim Fellow for Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin. Her work is currently the subject of an exhibition at the Centre de la photographic Genève, Geneva Switzerland. Newcomb Art Museum of Tulane, New Orleans, LA (2019); Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL (2019); Musée d'art Moderne, Luxembourg (2019); Frost Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FL (2019); CAPC, Bordeaux, France (2016); Carré d'art, Nîmes, France (2015); Aperture Foundation, New York (2015); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2013); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2013); Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX (2013); and The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2013), among others. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions at Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (2019); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (2019); Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI (2018); LUMA Arles, Arles, France (2018); The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2018); and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2017). Frazier was the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant (2015) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), among numerous other honors. Since 2014, she has been a professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

For more on LaToya Ruby Frazier please visit:

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Échale Sávila, 2019 (12 min.), Directed by Caitlin Díaz, Super 8, Regular 8mm, Mini DV transfer to digital

Guided by the music project Sávila, this film finds the band interviewing their mothers as they speak on themes of Mexican-American identity, resilience, inter-generational healing, and beauty shot through the lens of a super-8 camera.

full exhibition documentation here.