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ektor garcia: matéria prima at the Henry Art Gallery

April 2–September 4, 2022

Sculptor Ektor Garcia (born in 1985 in Red Bluff, California; based in Mexico City) challenges the hierarchies of gendered and racialized labor in works spanning textiles, ceramics, and metalwork by fusing a queer punk sensibility with craft practices and handwork traditions from his ancestral homeland in Mexico. Garcia gives new significance to means of making and understanding that are frequently relegated to minor positions within the dominant culture through techniques that capture the body’s intimate touch, such as rolling clay, knotting fibers, or hammering metal. Garcia chooses a small position from which to confront and challenge presumptions about who and what matters by purposefully formatting his name in lowercase. Garcia’s personal experience as well as a larger communal past influenced by power structures are combined to create hybrid objects that are sharp and tender, thick and porous, and that make palpable twined sensations of vulnerability and resistance.

In the show “matéria prima,” Garcia assembles a collection of haphazard items that challenge the monumentality of the Henry’s double-height gallery. Disrupting spatial order, solidity, and established concepts of form and tradition are crocheted copper-wire lace “quilts” that lie horizontally on the floor and porcelain and glass-link chains that hang from the ceiling. The exhibition’s title, “matéria prima,” is a reference to the sculptures’ malleability and its evocation of a process of everlasting being across time and space (raw material). The title also contains the Spanish word prima, which means cousin. This double meaning represents the relationship between the creator and the materials as well as the capacity for transformation that both share.

The delicate knots of garcia’s copper-wire lace recreate the method of making doilies that the women in his maternal family, who have origins in rural Zacatecas, Mexico, taught him when he was growing up in California. His revised lace promotes female labor and challenges the false dichotomy between high and low cultural practices, split across gendered, classed, and (also) racist forms of production. It also prioritizes flexibility, defying prescriptive notions of cultural authenticity.

Garcia created a large portion of the piece in matéria prima at the University of Washington’s Ceramic and Metal Arts Building while collaborating with staff, instructors, and students as a participant artist in the Henry’s Artist Fellowship Program.

ektor garcia: matéria prima is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Curator, and supported in part by a generous gift from Lee Rhodes and Peter Seligmann. New work created by garcia as part of the Henry Artist Fellowship Program was funded through a grant from the Jones Endowed Fund for the Arts.

Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington
15th Ave. NE & NE 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98195
United States
Hours: Thursday 10am–7pm,
Friday–Sunday 10am–5pm

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