Glendalys Medina’s use of nails and thread creates a reticulated surface that connects points of their works, The Owl (2021), and The Sun (2021), into singular beings. The physical and, at times, grueling process of creating these objects reveals a layer of understanding of how their work is not simply static geometric shapes and symbols, but a form brought to life through the artist’s repetitive bodily action. Through their rigorous and meticulous process of cutting, hammering, and binding, they imbue and energize each work with spirit and character—bringing them to active life. The composition and repetitive shapes in each work activate a sense of movement, establishing rhythmic and bodily gestures. Much of Medina’s works are musically driven and influenced by abstract forms that aid the understanding of visual movement. One can imagine the works gliding through space as animated characters encountering each other on a hero’s journey.
Composed of nails, wire, thread, and paint, Medina’s work speaks to what it is to be Puerto Rican through a reclamation of history and fictional retelling that contemporizes a discussion of identity, migration, and heritage. Their work resuscitates and breathes life into Taíno culture, which was eradicated and syncretized with African and Spanish cultures through colonization. The Owl spreads its golden wings and feathers—made of thread—high above its head, taking flight and actively gliding across the wall, while The Sun rotates its reflective surface of wires and nails as it makes its way through space.
Medina’s sculptural series tells the story of the hero’s journey through the artist’s distinct visual language of geometric abstraction combined with the myths and iconographies of the indigenous people of the Caribbean, the Taínos. Their most recent work, started during the 2020 quarantine, answers the existential call of “What would I do if I could only live for one more day or year?” Medina responded by embracing the symbols and imagery of Taíno culture that have been part of their life since childhood. Each of their sculptural pieces is an interpretation of the individual characters that belong to a broader story of Taíno beliefs, interpreted by friar Jeronimo Ramon Pane in 1498. Medina retells the original interpretation through their methodical visual language and syntax of shapes and symbols.
Artist texts by Marissa Del Toro
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Glendalys Medina is a conceptual interdisciplinary visual artist who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx. Medina received an MFA from Hunter College and has presented artwork international at such notable venues as PAMM, Participant Inc., Performa 19, Artists Space, The Bronx Museum of Art, El Museo del Barrio, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Vigo, Spain, and The Studio Museum in Harlem among others. Medina was a recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (2020), a Jerome Hill Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Rome Prize in Visual Arts (2013), a NYFA Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Art (2012), and the Bronx Museum Artist in the Marketplace residency (2010), among others. Medina is currently a professor at SVA’s MFA Fine Arts & Art Practice programs and lives and works in New York.