Artwork as Transposition (1)

Artwork as Transposition (1)

I decided to recover two texts that I wrote as short artist talks in 2021, after I started making art publicly. It was pandemic time and I participated in two online exhibitions that revolved around motherhood. I recover this particular text now for the development of the definition of Artwork as Transposition, which I highlight bellow. 

This text was written in March, 28, 2021 for the opening talk at the Sustenance Exhibition, organized with Barbara Campbell Thomas, Michele Landel, Jean Gray Mohls, Kristen Martincic, and Victoria Clarke-Frisby. 

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I came to participate in this group right after my baby Helena turned one year old. I wanted to work with Barbara first because I love her work, but then because of her critique style, in which she described her intention of helping artists to identify their own and unique style. At that time, I struggled to realize the shift that happened in my artmaking and what I had come to understand as my style. (note on time in the pandemic) I went from working with recycled paper (before having Helena) to painting on canvas (after having Helena). My desire to work on recycled paper before came from the discomfort of starting on a white/perfected medium like canvas. The paper that I recycled from old letters and art catalogs had in itself already a history to be painted on, while on the canvas, I feel that I can entertain the illusion of starting something completely new. So, I was struggling to understand my art-making process in the midst of this transformation.   

For the exhibition, I decided to bring one work on recycled paper (1), one work on canvas (which is the work that I was doing in the time that our group was going through the critique) (2), and one work post-critique, in which you can see how much I embraced transformation (3)! (Find images of the artworks at the end of the post!)

 

So, today, I’d like to focus a little on this notion of “transformation,” and to do so, I want us to look at the prefix in this word, the prefix “trans.” I want to do so because motherhood, especially in our times, has become a moment of profound transformation in women’s lives. I can only imagine that being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding, and just tending to another life has always been transformational for women. Still, it feels to me that perhaps these actions became all the more radical in our times when we are not raised to be mothers. If anything, up until I became a mother, I learned more about how not to become a mother, avoid pregnancy at all costs, and focus on my career. So, in this context, motherhood came with a deep transformation that changed all aspects of my life. 

Now, in my art historical research, I’ve been interested in transformation for a long time. How do we identify that something has changed? Particularly historical change. I’m always thinking, how can we say that what we are living now is different from what people lived in the 1960s and 70s, when perhaps we can say that many of the clear transformations that we see in terms of social movements happened? 

Ok, so going back to the prefix “trans.” It is from Latin, meaning “across, beyond, through.” A prefix is in itself an agent of transformation; its definition is “an additional element that, when placed to the beginning of one word, changes it into another word.”

The prefix “trans,” specifically, more than change, is a change that is carried through, that is, that goes from one thing to another, across, taking something beyond what it was before. So if you have a form, it is transformed; if you have a word in a language, it is translated… we transfuse, transgress, transcend, transfigure, and so on. 

In this most recent work in the exhibition, I created with Brazilian artist Lygia Clark’s work from the 1960s in mind. Clark, at that point, started to call her works “propositions” instead of artworks, so she would create objects that she would propose that people would interact with. Thinking about the prefix pro, in “proposition,” it means “to put forward.” So, her work put forward an idea and an experience. Instead, I thought of creating “transpositions,” so my work helps us get through, get across, and go beyond. I feel that this is what we need in motherhood, help to get through, and this is what I got from being part of this critique group. And it is also very much what we need now, to get through this pandemic, and see what is beyond this transformational time. 

Thank you! 

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Image of an abstract painting with white paint on recycled grey paper.

1. Freedom Map
11X8 1/2" Recycled paper and oil, 2019. 

Image of an abstract painting with brushstrokes in circular motion in yellow, purple and black.

2. Celeida
22X28", Acrylic, and gold leaf on canvas, 2020. 

Image of an artwork by Debora Faccion Grodzki in which she manipulated a photography of herself throwing a plastic bag in the air.

3. Air and plastic
Transposition of air between bodies, air and plastic bag, 2020. 
Fill a plastic bag with your air and throw it from one hand to another, creating an arch in the air. Look at the plastic bag as it travels in the air, and envision the air that came out of your body, which now keeps the body of the bag inflated. Keep your arms open as they establish roughly the recommended 6 ft. social distance. Envision the air that travels from one hand to another.