Eyes of the Skin, a group show curated by New York City-based artist Teresita Fernández, brings together work by Francheska Alcántara, Carolina Caycedo, Adriana Corral, David Antonio Cruz, Kira Dominguez Hultgren, Leslie Martinez, Glendalys Medina, Jeffrey Meris, and Esteban Ramón Pérez. Engaging various degrees of abstraction, the works in the show are united by each artist’s focus on materiality, process, and tactility. The title Eyes of the Skin references Juhani Pallasmaa’s 1996 book by the same name, in which Pallasmaa argues that contemporary aesthetics has placed too strong a priority on vision to the detriment of our other senses. Pushing back against the dominance of the eye and the biased hierarchies of visual art history, this exhibition focuses on “the role of the body as the locus of perception," and emphasizes the importance of indigenous, intuitive, and somatic knowledge as a primary source for understanding our world. Acknowledging that touching is a way of knowing, Eyes of the Skin privileges the mysterious but indelible knowledge we acquire from our personal experience with matter and the intelligence inherent to materials themselves.
The over 20 works included in this exhibition highlight tactility and physicality, and bear witness to the intimate, psychic, and emotional relationship developed between each artist and their chosen materials. By tracing their intricate actions, we are able to feel our way through these works, unlocking a deeper understanding of how each was made by accessing our own bodily memory of tactile experiences. For each artist, however, this sensorial knowledge takes a deeper, more complex form, unraveling personal mythologies and layering nuanced socio- political content within the rituals of their creative practices. Artists have a unique understanding of their work gleaned from the introspective, iterative reciprocity they have with their materials, and in turn, the materials themselves carry their own potent cultural histories, life force, and ideas. In these works, art making is revealed to be a subtle, poetic dialogue between artist and material that resists explanation, and evidence of the artist’s moving hand and body can be seen throughout the exhibition, subtly revealing the dynamic and interactive process of making and the physicality, timing, and trajectory it so often involves.
Emphasizing the physical nature of the art object through a focus on sculpture and sculptural processes inherent even in the more painterly works in the show, Eyes of the Skin compels viewers to move beyond the initial, composite image of each object and to explore the discrete elements that comprise the piece. Abstract and deeply complex, each work in the exhibition not only contains layers of the personal and the intimate, but also holds powerful political content woven within, revealed only through careful and purposeful engagement. As the exhibition title suggests, the best way in is through the eyes of the skin. The works invite viewers to go beyond representational images and to instead participate in an experiential and somatic understanding of each artist’s private practice.
Teresita Fernández is a Brooklyn-based artist and MacArthur Foundation Fellow, whose work is characterized by an interest in conceptual wayfinding and a rethinking of landscape and place. Her research-based practice is rooted in diverse historical and cultural references and unravels the intimacies between matter, places, and human beings. Often inspired by the natural world, Fernández poetically challenges ideas about what we often refer to as “landscape,” exposing the history of colonization and the inherent violence embedded in how we imagine and define locations.
Questions of power, visibility, and erasure are important tenets of Fernández’s work—issues that the artist engages in both her creative and social practice. In 2016, she conceived and directed the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium, funded and hosted at the Ford Foundation, which brought together leading visual artists, curators, museum directors, educators, academics, and funders from across the country to discuss modes of visibility and relevancy within cultural institutions. Her public artworks function as sites for social engagement, and Fernández often curates a wide range of programming as an integral component of contextualizing her physical artworks in the public realm. Fernández is the recipient of numerous awards, and her works have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. She has been represented by Lehmann Maupin since 2001.
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