TRANSPARENCY Before the invention of digital cameras, and for years after, art galleries required this type of documentation. When I found hundreds of these unusable slides, I knew I wanted to repurpose them. As transparencies, they expose the threads that have consistently run through my work: truth, beauty, justice, spirit… what I consider my "then truths." Now those truths and this new work become a metaphor for my light and my shadow, reflecting back and shining through, tied together, inextricably connected, inseparable.
TRANSPARENCIA Antes de la invención de las cámaras digitales y aún años después, las galerías de arte necesitaban las diapositivas como herramienta de documentación. Cuando encontré cientos de estas inservibles diapositivas, supe que quería reutilizarlas. Como transparencias, exponen los hilos que han pasado consistentemente por mi obra: verdad, belleza, justicia, espíritu… lo que considero son mis “verdades de entonces”. Ahora esas verdades y esta nueva obra se convierten en una metáfora de mi luz y mi sombra, reflejándose y brillando, atadas, inextricablemente conectadas, inseparables.
365 4 2015
BEHIND THE LABEL
Fabric strips, clothing labels
Este huipil reconoce y recuerda la difícil condiciónes de las costureras de todo el mundo. Tiras sobrantes sirven como metáfora de trabajadoras que son tan desechables, simplemente usado y dejado de lado por las empresas que producen la más alta calidad, la mayoría de los diseños populares. ¿Qué podemos hacer como consumidores para promover salarios justos y los derechos humanos para las manos detrás de la etiqueta?
This huipil recognizes and remembers the plight of garment workers around the world. Leftover strips serve as a metaphor for garment workers who are so disposable, simply used and tossed aside by corporations who produce the highest quality, most popular designs. What can we as consumers do to promote fair wages and human rights for the hands behind the label?
BEHIND THE LABEL, Museo Ixchel, Guate. City, 2014
BEHID THE LABEL, Biblioteca Henstrosa, Oaxaca, 2014
COMO AGUA DE MAYO Galeria 6, Mineral de Pozos, March, 2013
The Pathmaker was beautiful before the installation, I almost believed it was enough, but given its own room and some props, it became more of perhaps what it wanted to be all along. The tree planted on the viewer's left side creates a space to mentally enter into, to contemplate the safety, or the wisdom, of walking beneath those branches, into whatever may lie beyond. The lone figure is reading a quote written on the wall:
"You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path.
Where there is a way or a path, it is someone else's path. You are not on your own path." -Joseph Campbell, The Hero's Journey
A tumbleweed, an old suitcase covered in dry leaves and a large hat offering shade from a harsh sun propose the possibility of a long sojourn.
Maps of the world, maps of Mexico, it doesn't matter - they're all upside down anyway. You have no need for them, make your own path! "Let each man take the path according to his own capacity, understanding and temperament. His true guru will meet him along that path." -Sivananda Saraswat
Inside the Pathmaker's pocket is a loose leaf book of "Things Collected Along the Path." Because surely, if you take the path, you will be gifted with treasures that will remain in your heart and your mind for all of your life. "When the path ignites a soul, there's no remaining in place. The foot touches the ground, but not for long.' - Hakim Sanai
MENSAJES GUARDADOS / GUARDED MESSAGES Galeria 6, Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato, MX August 29 - October 10, 2009
“We all have a lifetime of saved messages, mensajes guardados, whether we realize it or not: subliminal, doctrinal, familial, historical, cultural messages. At what point in our lives do we begin to realize that not all those messages were true, or question why they were necessary and relevant to our survival or our well-being?
Living in Mexico, I find the options on the telephone to be one of the most difficult challenges. When I check my messages, there are usually three options: mensajes nuevos, mensajes guardados, and mensajes borrados. This feels so much like the journey of life itself, the choices we make as we meander or rush along the path. As I have moved around during different periods of my life, packing and unpacking boxes, the old journals, letters, books, etc. become a troublesome burden, demanding a decision about which are to be saved, which are to throw out or given away.
We know from history that all cultures have left messages to be saved, from the hieroglyphs in Egypt to the petroglyphs of Native Americans, and the codices and textiles of Meso-America, all provided a way to save information for future generations. As a shape and form, the huipil is something I’ve been involved in for several years. As carriers of indigenous information about astronomy, agronomy, religious and cultural beliefs and customs, huipils in the old tradition truly are mensajes guardados.
Mensajes Guardados is about history, truths and untruths, cultural traditions and the people and policies that work to defeat them, voices of strength and courage and those that work to silence them, and in the end, it’s about our choices regarding what we believe, who we revere and what we find when we care deeply enough to look beyond the obvious.”
Lena Bartula, 2009
Declaración del artista:
"Todos tenemos una vida de mensajes guardados, mensajes guardados, si nos damos cuenta o no: subliminal, doctrinales, familiares, históricos, mensajes culturales. ¿En qué momento de nuestra vida empezamos a darnos cuenta de que no todos esos mensajes eran ciertos, o pregunta por qué eran necesarios y pertinentes para nuestra supervivencia o nuestro bienestar?
Vivir en México, creo que las opciones en el teléfono para ser uno de los retos más difíciles. Cuando puedo comprobar mis mensajes, por lo general hay tres opciones: mensajes nuevos, mensajes guardados, y los mensajes borrados. Esto se siente tanto como el viaje de la vida misma, las decisiones que tomamos como meandro o correr a lo largo de la ruta. Como me he movido en torno a distintos períodos de mi vida, embalaje y cajas de desembalaje, las revistas viejas, cartas, libros, etc convertirse en una carga molesta, exigiendo una decisión sobre la cual se van a guardar, que están para tirar o regalar .
Sabemos por la historia que todas las culturas han dejado mensajes para ser salvos, de los jeroglíficos en Egipto a los petroglifos de los nativos americanos, y de los códices y textiles de Mesoamérica, todos proporcionan una manera de guardar la información para las generaciones futuras. Como una forma y la forma, el huipil es algo que he estado involucrado en varios años. Como soportes de información indígena sobre la astronomía, la agronomía, religiosa y cultural de las creencias y costumbres, huipiles, en la antigua tradición de verdad son mensajes guardados.
Mensajes Guardados está basado en la historia, verdades y mentiras, las tradiciones culturales y las personas y las políticas que trabajan para derrotarlos, voces de la fuerza y el valor y los que trabajan en silencio, y al final, se trata de nuestras decisiones sobre lo que creemos, que nosotros veneramos y lo que encontramos cuando nos preocupamos profundamente lo suficiente como para mirar más allá de lo obvio. "
Lena Bartula, 2009
HUIPIL CLOTHESLINE INSTALLATION
ILLUMINE Arthaus66 Contemporary Gallery Albuquerque, April 3-29, 2009 arthaus66.com
With recycled, organic or otherwise alternative materials I have created contemporary huipils that illuminate the lives and stories of women of courage who have been negated by history, women whose mundane or heroic actions changed our world. The series also includes feminine energies of the earth, lands which are being threatened, and female deities and legends which have served to guide and nurture. Each huipil represents a woman’s body, and in that, also symbolizes both cover up and uncovering. Through the materials I shine a light on women such as las vendadoras, the women who sell their wares in the mercados, and las frijoleras, women whose labor in the fields puts food on the tables of the world.
Individual women like Minerva Mirabal, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Nadia Anjuman, or Comandante Ramona, recall not only their personal stories, but the epoch and society in which they lived. Anna Mae Aquash, an activist and leader in the AIM movement, is represented by a war shirt made of paper, on which the only image is a pair of red hands. “Las Mariposas”, the Mirabal sisters whose murders brought down the Trujillo regime, are honored with a huipil of oilcloth and market bags on which the butterfly pattern is repeated three times. “Tibet, the Motherland” is a simply stitched quilt made of old prayer flags, which very loosely attached so that they can flutter in a breeze. Sor Juana’s huipil takes the quilt design as well, with her image on 200 peso bills in play money, sandwiched and stitched between two pieces of transparent plastic.
Their stories, their huipils, are hung on a clothesline, like the laundry that historically is women’s work. All the huipils are the same size and shape, and suspended at eye-level, so that walking beween the rows, we become ‘everywomen’ or ‘everyman.’ None is bigger, thinner, less or more perfect than the one before it or beside it. Behind the clothesline lies “Ni Una Mas” crumpled and forgotten on the floor, surrounded by sand and tumbleweeds, recalling the young women of Juarez who are raped, tortured and murdered, then left in the desert. In remembrance of them, I have placed candles around it, and installed 3 pink crosses, the manner in which the murders are commemorated there.
Three of the huipils are made in the form of bookarts; one recalls the Afghanistan poet Nadia Anjuman murdered by her husband, and another, Guatemalan writer Alaide Foppa, disappeared by her own government, and both silenced because of their voices.
On the side wall, the 4x8’ “Matrix Grid” holds 122 small paper huipils, some of which explain the larger ones, and others which are left blank, to be written on by viewers in honor of women in their lives. When the grid is filled, it becomes a quilt, also symbolic of “women’s work,” uniting all who participate by adding their voices to it, in the same way my mother and her quilting group became one as they told stories while working together. My belief is that when we all realize our similarities are greater than our differences, our world will become a more harmonious place in which each of us can fully live our dreams.
For more photos of indiividual huipils, click here
MATRIX WALL, 4x8'
"NI UNA MAS" SHRINE INSTALLATION
EL SILENCIO / A TRIBUTE TO SOR JUANA INES DE LA CRUZ On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2008, an art installation opened
at El Museo de la Ciudad in Queretaro, featuring a garment in honor of
the first woman to argue for women’s rights on this continent.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th century poet nun, is honored in
this two-part exhibition. The origin of Women’s Day was a march
for women’s rights on March 8, 1857, the first in the U.S., and was led
by women working in the garment industry in New York. Fifty-one
years later, a new generation in the industry marched again, demanding
better working conditions. That was in 1908, exactly one hundred
years ago. I have humbly borrowed the shape of a
huipil, the traditional Mexican blouse, to represent women whose
stories have been covered up, women who have been silenced, maligned or
suppressed. A garment that ‘covers up’ important parts of a woman’s
body, the huipil as I revision it aims to expose, rather than
conceal, important parts of a woman’s story. Known as Mexico’s Tenth Muse, and the Phoenix of Mexico, Juana was a
nun, poet, philosopher, playwright, mathematician, musician, scientist,
feminist, in fact, the first feminist in the New World. Silenced
by the Church in the 17th century, during the Spanish Inquisition,
Juana and her story were largely forgotten until the early 20th
century, and thus have been added to my personal pantheon of denied
women. (Las Negadas) “SILENCE,” the first part of this exhibition, is an installation
intended to restore Juana to our consciousness, through the legacy of
her misfortune: her cell as it might have been after her
renunciation. Absent are her abundance of books and maps, her
scientific and musical instruments, her conch shell and mirror, opulent
gifts of art, jewels and furnishings, stacks of manuscripts awaiting
publication. These luxuries at one time surrounded Juana, later were
confiscate, sold or given away; in their place, there is simply an
abundance of solitude and austerity. The centerpiece of “SILENCIO” is a suspended huipil, created from a
book of her love poems to ‘Lysis’ and ‘Laura,’ monikers for her
intimate women friends, perhaps even her lovers. With pages stitched together like a
quilt, it recalls a diversity of talents and passions, the secular kind
that so antagonized the church hierarchy. Inspired by the
renunciation scene in Maria Luisa Bemburg’s film, "Yo, la Peor de
Todas," I added a reflection of the huipil below, composed of rose
petals. Mimicking the color of the blood with which Juana
signed her renunciation, the petals prostrate themselves, asking
forgiveness and begging for mercy. On the wall behind, another
huipil is created by the illumination of her words, a disembodied Juana
becomes her own shadow.
The second half of the exhibition, “OTHER DREAMS,” makes a clear
reference to Juana’s best known work, "First Dream," in which the soul
journeys in search of divine revelation and finds none. I have
imagined alternative dreams for Juana, neither lofty nor cosmic, simply
mundane visions Juana might have in the eras since her life
ended. After altering the famous posthumous portrait by Miguel
Cabrera in my computer, I created photo transfers and monoprints.
In one, titled "Corazon a Corazon", Frida Kahlo and Juana have formed a
friendship, or maybe more, borrowing from Kahlo’s dual
self-portrait. Perhaps Converse would be her shoe of
choice, streetsmart, comfortable and a little funky. At the end
of a hard day, Juana is ready for martini night, with a short black
dress and stiletto pumps, returning us to the theme of garments and
cover-ups, of uncovering and unsilencing. Juana’s dreams in this exhibition are the dreams of everywoman –
to be heard, to be visible, to live in a world that is open to them,
and in this way, OTHER DREAMS is ultimately about unsilencing.
THIS SERIES OF PHOTO TRANSFER MONOTYPES IS NOW AVAILABLE AT GALERIA6, ON THE PLAZA PRINCIPAL IN MINERAL DE POZOS.