Simon Preston Gallery is delighted to present Inside The Nest, a group exhibition curated by Embajada. Conditions of post-colonialism, inherited and passed through generations, oral stories, traditions, and the fabrication of objects are invoked by each of the six artists in the show as a means to reclaim their particular cultural heritage. According to the late poet, writer and theorist Edouard Glissant, culture is never a finished product, referring to syncretism as a blend or attempted combination of different religions, cultures or school of thought.
Through mapping, documenting and employing artisanal techniques, Jorge González’s ongoing pedagogical research serves as a platform for the recuperation of marginalized vernacular culture in an attempt to produce new narratives incorporating the indigenous and the modern. These projects exist as a mobile program through conversations, workshops, exhibitions, and publications such as the inaugural release of the Herramientos Generosas, vol 3, a collaborative publication between González, editor Michy Marchaux, and designer Olga Casellas, exploring gaps in local historical and cultural narratives.
Working across sculpture, installation and site-specific interventions, Engel Leonardo addresses issues related to climate, nature, traditional crafts, architecture and popular culture of the Caribbean. Of particular interest in his work is the production of objects, and their embedded psychological and sociological functions. The series of sculptures, made with local mud and guayacán, refer to icons from the Dominican Republic – faceless dolls created in the Higüerito region by a community of artisans in the 1970s.
For the past several years, Claudia Peña Salinas has been doing research about Tlaloc and Chalchiuhtlicue, the male and female Aztec deities of rain and fertility, in an ongoing body of work composed of sculpture, images, installation, and video. Her practice is centered on visits to Mexico, where she was born and raised; through the process of travel, documentation, research and collection of ephemera, Peña Salinas constructs a poetic narrative, which is at the same time personal and political.
Mapas del Cerro continues Chemi Rosado-Seijo’s long-term collaboration with El Cerro, a rural community embedded in the mountains of Naranjito, Puerto Rico. Initiated in 2002, through negotiation and collaboration the residents painted the exteriors of homes in different shades of green, paying homage to the way the community has built in harmony with the topography of the mountains where it stands. In preparing the surface of the walls they scratched and peeled off layers of paint from years of accumulation, which were later brought into the studio to be examined and repurposed.
Beau Dick was an artist who took much of his inspiration and technique from Kwakwaka’wakw traditions embracing contemporary influences into his sculptures. Beau was born and raised in a small village in Canada’s northwest coast which, because of its geographic isolation, became a sanctuary from the federal government’s ban on indigenous Potlatch customs, in place until 1951. Tapping into the collective memory of his community, Beau actively perpetuated ceremonial traditions, creating transformative masks of mythical Kwakwaka’wakw folklore. Carving and ceremony were both equal parts of his practice, the masks becoming evidence of ongoing and living cultural practices.
Clement Siatous was forcibly displaced, along with the entire population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, by the UK Government to make way for a US military base where it remains today. In order to politically support the eviction, both governments involved created a fiction that an indigenous population had never existed. Siatous renders a counterpoint to official and traditional modes of record in direct response to this continued government denial. Depicting narrative scenes from memory Siatous constructs a comprehensive chronicle of life on the islands. Through his practice he reclaims ownership of his own history, while becoming a voice for his community in defying their culture’s eradication.
Embajada is a gallery and curatorial project founded in 2015 by Christopher Rivera and Manuela Paz, located in the neighborhood of Hato Rey in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Inspired by the idea to exist as a diplomatic mission, the project aims to create a political context through the use of aesthetic information and driven by collaborative spirit. WEB
Jorge González, (b. Puerto Rico, 1981) received his BFA from the Puerto Rico School of Visual Arts in 2006. Residencies include Beta-Local, San Juan in (2012) and the Davidoff Residency Program in Bogota (2017). He has exhibited internationally including at el Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (2014), Die Ecke (2015) in Chile, Kunsthalle Osnabruek, Germany (2015), and SITELines (2016). Most recently González participated in a pedagogical program for documenta 14, Kassel, Germany, Under the Mango Tree: Sites of Learning, organized by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen). In 2018, González will be included in Pacha, Llacta, Wasichay, Building the Indigenous Present at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Engel Leonardo, (b. Dominican Republic, 1977), graduated from the Faculty of Arts of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. He has exhibited his work internationally including: 24th National Biennale (2007), 26th National Biennale, MAM, Santo Domingo (2011), Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. (2012), 27th National Biennale of Visual Arts, MAM, Santo Domingo (2013), TEOR/éTica, San José, Costa Rica (2014), Museo del Hombre, Santo Domingo (2014), Focus Latin America, ARCO, Madrid (2015), and MOCAD, Detroit (2015), Formatocomodo, Madrid, (2017).
Claudia Peña Salinas (b. Mexico, 1975), lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and Mexico City, Mexico. She studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received her MFA from Hunter College, New York (2009). She has exhibited at the Queens Museum of Art, New York (2012), El Museo del Barrio, New York (2005), El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (2006), and Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico (2015). Residencies and awards include: the Lower Manhattan City Council, Process Space, New York (2016), and SOMA residency, Mexico City (2011). She is a recipient of the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship (2007).
Chemi Rosado-Seijo (b. Puerto Rico, 1973), graduated from the painting department of the Puerto Rico School of Visual Arts in 1997. In 2000, Rosado had his first solo show at the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona. Seijo has participated in numerous exhibitions and biennials including the Whitney (2017, 2002), Prague (2005), Havana (2015), and Pontevedra (2010). In 2011 he received the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant and in May of 2015, Rosado-Seijo was granted The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist Fellowship.
Beau Dick (b. Canada, 1955, D. 2017) studied under his father, Benjamin Dick and his grandfather James Dick, and later under renowned artists Henry Hunt and Doug Cranmer. He has exhibited internationally in group and solo exhibitions. His work can be found in museum collections around the world, as well as in private collections. He created a transformation mask for Expo ’86 in Vancouver, which now hangs in the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. Beau Dick has many pieces on display in the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Dick’s work has been exhibited most recently at Documenta 14, Athens and Kassel, (2017).
Clement Siatous (b. Chagos Islands, 1947) lives and works between Mauritius and London. For the last fifty years Siatous has been building a visual archive of the history of the Chagos Islands. Siatous will open a solo exhibition in Port Louis, Mauritius in November, 2017. Recent exhibitions include The Chagos Embassy of Puerto Rico, Embajada, San Juan, Puerto Rico, (2016); Future Nature, Jack Hanley, New York, (2016); Sagren, Simon Preston Gallery, New York, (2015). Siatous was awarded the Member of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean (MSK) by the Mauritian Government for his on-going advocating for the culture of the Chagossian community through his painting.