Mar 22, 2021

WORLD WATER DAY

Mixed media sculpture by Lena Bartula
"Water Water Everywhere and Not a Drop That's Clean"

This mixed media sculpture stands as a testament to the state of our waters, in so many
parts of the world. I created it several years ago, from a porcelain sink reminiscent of drinking fountains in elementary schools. It's something like I would have been drinking out of as a child in the 1950s, before pollution from factories and farms changed the ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans as we knew them. 


An old Barbie doll, dressed in map of the world, covered with a found plastic water bottle, features a faucet for a head. From there, strips of shredded textiles flow, some in colors that we don't wish to imagine when we take a sip. And yet, in so many parts of our world today, water filters are necessary to create safe, drinkable water. 


Here in San Miguel de Allende, one way we can address contamination and its associated health risks is by supporting Caminos de Agua, whose mission it is to provide communities at risk, with access to clean water. If you aren't familiar with this org, please click on the link to see all the work being done, and why it's so important for the people in our area.

Because I believe in this organization and the work they do, I offer this sculpture, "Water Water Everywhere..." as my commitment to their project. Your purchase of this art means 100% of the proceeds goes to Caminos de Agua. For details and price, please email me at lenabartula@gmail.com. Your payment will go directly to CdA. 
Let's all use World Water Day to think about what we can do to keep our waters safe for this generation and those to come. 




 

Feb 23, 2021

IT'S SPRING SOMEWHERE!

 If Springtime hasn't come your way yet, you may be still snowed in, without power or water.  Don't lose hope, it really is on its way! As climate change continues to shift our normal weather patterns, each year brings with it more intensity in virtually every place on the planet. 

  Here in San Miguel de Allende, thoughts of spring begin with the Feria de Candelaria, around February 1 or 2, depending on where it falls during the week. The popular flower, tree and plant fair, usually held in Parque Juarez, fills the pathways with vendors who have been propagating all year. Not only plants are available, but potting soil, macetas (terracotta planters) and all sorts of horticultural supplies for those putting in fruit trees, vegetables and rooftop and gardens. 

Rows of colorful flowers line the path at the parque
 
  
This year, the feast of Candelaria came and went without the feria, for the first time in its history. Spring seems to be here, but due to Covid restrictions, most of us have been visiting the viveros (plant nurseries) who continue to survive through this economic drought. 

As a tribute to the feria that didn't happen, my huipil for Xochiquetzal was included in my current   exhibition "Material Meditations" at Galeria Interseccion. Her Nahuatl  name means “Precious Feather  Flower” and as the Aztec goddess of beauty, sexual love, household arts, and is is also known as "Goddess of the Flowering Spring." 

Xochiquetzal from the Florentine Codex

To represent 2020, my Xochiquetzal homage is accompanied by a Covid Artmask,
created from the same silk flowers as her huipil. More about the Goddess and
her story can be found in my artbook, "Whispers in the Thread" available at La Huipilista 
Artspace, many fine stores in San Miguel, (ask me for the list) and by clicking
here .


Xochiquetzal huipil and mask at Galeria Intersección


Xochiquetzal spread in Whispers in the Thread 

And with this, I wish you all a beautiful, joyous, and safe Spring 2021, even though
it's really still February. Keep the faith!




Jan 21, 2021

MATERIAL MEDITATIONS

solo exhibition featuring  textile art by Lena Bartula

"The events of 2020 changed the way we see our world and our place in it. In 2019, I had published my book, "Whispers in the Thread," showcasing a 15 year series in celebration of the huipil. The theme was something I still wanted to pursue, yet now I felt like it was time to move forward. Art in the Time of Covid has meant staying in the studio, continuing my practice, pushing myself to go deep into the unknown. 

As 2020 approached, a little more than one year ago now, I tossed everything, salvaged materials, found objects, donated fabrics, onto the studio table to see what could be created from them. 


The shift from knowing my concept – my former modus operandi – was both challenging and enlightening. 
It soon became clear that if I allowed the materials to speak, my job was to listen. 
Silence prevailed as I spent more time alone and dove even deeper. 




Turning to the scrap heap before me, I created a new series to reflect upon a year of chaos, uncertainty, and loss. A sense of wonder overtook my own uncertainty. I began choosing materials that might not be seen as complementary, stitching them together in a way that I hoped might make beauty out of chaos.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       This became an everyday ritual as the pandemic began to besiege our world. Taking up a needle and thread, I endeavored to transform fear with fabric, solitude with stitches, and anxiety with artfulness. 
                            As I meditated on these as a goal, my mind quieted while my hands pieced together the works you see presented here."  -Lena Bartula, 2021 / Artist Statement 

There is so much to say about the blue huipil represented here on the invitation, especially after yesterday's inauguration of a new president in the U.S., I'll have to save it for another blog. See you next time, and thank you for being part of my art blogging audience. Your feedback is always appreciated. 



PS. The invitation doesn't mention that the opening day reception is actually from 11am - 5 pm if you're not comfortable attending the cocktail reception in the evening. Masks required, temperature taken, gel available. And please know that this gallery has a large outdoor space and plenty of fresh air flow. 







Dec 25, 2020

SHELTER

SHELTER has always been one of those words. It conjures up, for me, memories, emotions, desires and basic needs. My oldest recollection of the word is from childhood Christmases in a Catholic family. There was always a Nativity Scene in our home, complete with angels, camels and wise men. More than just shelter, Mary and Joseph needed a place to spend the night safely and comfortably, a place where Mary could give birth. What they were given was a place where animals are the usual residents. A stable. It was probably not what they had in mind, but remember, among the definitions of stable are: steady, calm, secure. 

Upon hearing this tale, I've wondered how many of us would be brave enough to let strangers enter our homes, or even the garage or patio. Yet, we do feel outrage at the massive numbers of children in cages, overfilled detention centers and prisons, where stability, (from the word stable) is absent. Homeless numbers are hitting the breaking point for many U.S. cities. Human rights and basic necessities, ie., water, safety, food security, protection, environmental and economic stability are missing from so many segments of our society. When all of it feels so overwhelming, how do we find our place within the need, the hunger, the injustice? 

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a year in which everything shifted, sideways and upside down. Beginning  with Covid19 in March, people around the world were cautioned to "shelter in place." On this Christmas Day almost one year later, many of us still are staying home if we can, being careful so that ourselves and others are safe, but many are not. We humans are still and forever in a learning curve.


Today and every day 
may we make ourselves accountable 
to shelter in love 
shelter in peace
shelter in compassion. 

Every inch of me is grateful for a soft and beautiful place to shelter, and I'm grateful that it's also true for my kids and grandkids, and most of my friends. If you are not yet in a place as fortunate, I send you love, light and hope for better times and safer shelter. Until we can all gather in joy and celebration again, may we be mindful of what we have, be kind to those we encounter, and give from the heart to those seeking safety, protection and a chance to survive.


detail from "Soul Shelter" huipil by Lena Bartula 
detail from "Soul Shelter" huipil.
repurposed textiles and found objects. 2020



Nov 11, 2020

Material Metaphors

A collection of images and sounds we captured in Oaxaca Mexico, juxtaposing nature and architecture with my huipils from Oaxaca and Guatemala.

Aug 26, 2020

"IT'S NOT A GOOD TIME TO BUY ART"

Those words were uttered a few days ago by a woman, a collector, a friend, who had come to my artspace for a visit and a look. She said it spontaneously, in the middle of a Covid conversation, and we both laughed out loud at the idea of it. For her part, all the political and social issues make her think that art should be the last thing on our minds. Was her laughter to cover some guilt she felt about blurting it out? 

For my part, I laughingly responded that "It's the perfect time! I have rent to pay, just like everyone else!" We continued our conversation about which pieces she was drawn to, and she confessed that there were too many that called to her, and she was on overwhelm. She gave me a list of 6, to send photos, prices and sizes for contemplating in the quiet of her own space. 

I need to practice more on panorama photos, but this I'll post just to give you an idea of her predicament. It's only part of one of the three rooms she took in carefully over a long period. 


After she left, I started thinking about... and then having conversations about....why IT IS a good time to buy art. I want to share those with you, in case you're an artist, a curator, a collector, or one of those who say 'someday' you'd like to buy original art. Because you may have some ideas and reasons of your own that you'll share in the comments.  

Reason number 1: We're all in our homes during this sheltering-in phase, more hours of the day, more days of the week. And we don't  know for how long it will continue. I believe that feeding our souls through visually stimulating, evocative or calming images and furnishings will help us not only survive, but enjoy more of our solo time.

Reason number 2; For some people who still have an income, there is a bit more in our bank accounts than when we were shopping, eating out, attending theatre, etc. We have extra to donate to food banks, families without incomes, presidential campaigns, etc. and often forget that we can do all of that and still nourish ourselves. Nourishing ourselves has been proven to be a key element in safeguarding our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. 

Reason number 3: Many artists are part of that community that has been without income since March, and if you value what they do, this is as good a time as any to show your support.

All of the arts need our support: visual, musical, cinematic, literary and theatrical. Snatch the opportunity to attend online concerts, openings, readings, and if you're on a walkabout, stop in and say hello to the artists, have a look at whatever nourishes your soul. It's a treat that not even Covid can take from you. For those of you in or from the U.S., it will help soothe the savage angst of the upcoming election. Art Saves Lives!  

Jul 20, 2020

DARK GODDESS / BLACK MADONNA


Last month, preeminent writer and poet Ana Castillo invited me to submit something for her new online zine, "La Tolteca 2.0." I'm deeply honored to be included in this first issue. Below, I am copying the text she used, and adding some of my own photos. I hope you'll have a look at her zine and follow her. If you don't know her work, it's time you did. She's a literary treasure.

DARK GODDESS / BLACK MADONNA

Traditionally, the huipil is the indigenous dress or blouse of Mesoamerica. Known for its straight, simple shape and intricate patterns, it is usually, but not always, woven on a backstrap loom. As a survival strategy during Spanish colonial rule, a wealth of information was woven into the design. Text within the textile. These garments were clandestine books. They functioned as containers for religious beliefs, agricultural secrets, and community traditions, all discretely embedded within the threads.

Huipil exhibition at Museo de Arte Popular, CDMX

Inspired by the concept of a garment as messenger, I began in 2003 to create contemporary, non-wearable versions from paper and canvas. My intention was to weave the threads of truth, justice, beauty, and power into my huipiles, aligning with the cultural, historical, and social context of their tradition. In December, 2019, I published a book, “Whispers in the Thread,” to celebrate 15 years of this series. While it was at the press, I was contemplating what would follow it, and I realized the answer was ‘more huipiles.’ This new beginning however, called for something different. I felt I was finished creating specific works for particular women or issues.

So I took a leap.

Wanting to continue my practice of reusing and repurposing, I took my boxes and bags of materials, threw everything on the studio table, to see what I could make of the chaos.

 Dump, sort, use, repeat. 

This new way of working forced an emergence, and created a more organic, non-goal oriented process. Challenging as it is, I persevered, determined to allow something to take shape that I didn’t consciously direct.

The first work had been pieced together for months, and it wasn’t until January that I really dove into it. This oversized huipil had begun with a black chamisole and a woven plastic bag from the produce market, stitched on to some old painting aprons. It had no focus until I incorporated a book cover whose title “The Dark Goddess” showed faintly on the spine. 

I began to build the concept around her, the ancient mother goddess whose shrines I’ve made pilgrimages to in Mexico and Europe since the 1990’s. She had come home to me, and found a place in my studio. As Covid-19 was now beginning to spread to this continent, I also gave her an oversized facemask to symbolize protection and care for all her children.

Just as I was applying the last bits of textile and found objects, George Floyd cried out for his mama before his last breath was stolen from him. Like mothers around the world, I cried out with him, and for him. What if we all begin to see Black and dark as the place of emergence, without which nothing is birthed, nothing is grown, and nothing flowers? How could that awareness change our ingrained racist attitudes? DARK GODDESS / BLACK MADONNA is dedicated to George Floyd and all BIPOC whose lives have been shattered by white privilege.

Fabric Collage; 60 x 50 in. 2020