All the huipiles in the current exhibit at Biblioteca Henestrosa in Oaxaca have shown in at least one other venue. In the past, my inner compulsive artist worried that recycling the same work could become predictable and stale, but I think I've worked it out. What makes the difference are the unpredictables, something I have come to appreciate. One unpredictable is the space itself and its power to transform the art. Until I actually, physically, bring the work into the space for the first time, I have only guessed at where and how it is going to look. Other times, the curator has her or his ideas, and sometimes props, igniting a kind of spontaneous combustion. Then, there is a thing called happenstance that is part grace, part magic, or what some artists call happy accidents.
In the Henestrosa exhibition, the huipil titled "Behind the Label" commands an entire wall, because of the spiraling dance created by fabric strips. It playfulness invites and engages viewers into a visual dialog, upclose and personal, about the tough subject of sweatshops and fair labor practices.
Below, the Museo Ixchel installation. The same huipil holds the space in such a different way. The strips come off the wall, winding their way through antiquated sewing machines. There, the fabric is symbolically transformed into clothing by the invisible hands of invisible workers.
Another instance of transformation due to space is "Radiance Obscured." This particular huipil was rolled up and shipped from my studio in December, before I left for Guatemala. When I finally arrive in Oaxaca in March, it had been rolled up for 2 months. Jorge Velasco, the curator, saw that the pages had curled and I asked if he had an iron.
|RADIANCE OBSCURED, Galeria 6|
But for this one, Jorge and I had discussed a colorful fabric screen, rather than paint on the wall. During installation,
Jorge asked "what if" .....
what if we leave the pages curled, and maybe even enhance the curl so that all the colorfully painted canvas behind showed up?
I find myself in awe at the difference in the two photos of the same huipil. What I have learned from these experiences is to let go of pre-conceived ideas about my work, and let the process happen. When I'm able to do that, each piece has the capacity to re-imagine itself. For me, the work is in allowing the dissolution of self, of ego, in order to give voice to the space, the curator, and whatever is speaking to and about the work.