Blanka Amezkua explores the significance of corners and her relationship with them in a site-specific installation of photographs, textiles, and mixed media works, Corners, Body, Lines: Blanka Amezkua, at the William Paterson University Galleries in the Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts from January 29 through March 16, 2018. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Admission is free. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Wednesday, January 31 from 3 to 5 p.m. The artist will give a talk about her work on Monday, February 26 from 11 a.m. to noon in the South Gallery.
Amezkua has had a long-standing fascination with corners. She describes them as angles that are united or that come together in a specific place. The artist explains, “Historically, many things have taken place in corners. They can be meeting points or points of reference.” She is particularly drawn to the interior wall structure of the Court Gallery for its lack of corners. For this exhibition, she examines the relationship between her body in this corner-less space, uses the existing walls to showcase the shape of the void and the silhouette of her body, and has asked Mexican artisans and Chicano self-taught artists to respond to these resulting shapes.
Intrigued by the embedded history, tradition, and ancestral knowledge that is passed down from generation to generation, Amezkua views the work of artisans as a reminder of what still exists but is often forgotten. She finds strength in their creative force and infinite lessons rooted in the actions of their assiduous working hands. Amezkua has collaborated with artisans from her native country, Mexico, in order to connect with her ancestry and so that the traditions of her ancestors physically fill and form her bodily representations.
For this particular collaboration, Amezkua invited Pedro de la Rosa, Julio de la Rosa, and Mario de la Rosa, artisans from the Mexican state of Guerrero, to create their legendary amate (bark paper) paintings. Artisans Guadalupe Hernandez and Bertha Hurtado, from the state of Michoacán, contributed intricate crocheted fabric. Alejandro Montaño, of Teotitlan, Oaxaca, crafted colorful woolen rugs, and two Chicano self-taught artists from Texas living in New York, Maricella Infante and Rene Valdez, produced several amate artworks to include in the exhibition. All of the artisans were asked to elaborate their working style inside silhouette forms of the artist’s body.
Blanka Amezkua was formally trained as a painter, studying in Florence, Italy. She received her BA from California State University in Fresno (1993). Her work and projects have been shown nationally and internationally at Bronx Art Space, New York (2016); San Diego Art Institute, California (2015); El Museo del Barrio, New York (2015); Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, New Jersey (2013); The Bronx River Art Center, New York (2010); Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington (2010); Exit Art, New York (2010); MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York (2010); The Center for Book Arts, New York (2009); The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2008); and Queens Museum, New York (2006). She has been awarded the Cultural Immigrant Initiative Workshop grant through BRAC in Soundview, New York (2017); the Department of Cultural Affairs Greater New York Arts Development Fund (2017, 2009); the Bronx Museum of the Arts: AIM 28 (2008); and the Bronx Council on the Arts BRIO award (2008).
The exhibition is one of two on view concurrently in the University Galleries. Geandy Pavón: Vae Victis Vanitas, on view in the South and East Galleries, showcases black and white photographs of former Cuban political prisoners who are currently living in exile in the United States.
This exhibition is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The William Paterson University Galleries are wheelchair-accessible. Large-print educational materials are available. For additional information, please call the William Paterson University Galleries at 973-720-2654.
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