Friday, November 9, 2012

BURLINGTON: Latitude/Longitude: Weaving Themes, Assembling Stories at Flynndog

During November and December, 2012 at Flynndog, 208 Flynn Avenue in Burlington:
LATITUDE | LONGITUDE: Weaving Themes Assembling Stories, described as “reflections on identity and geographic coordinates in traditional and contemporary media.”

The exhibit contains work by three artists, all bilingual speakers of Spanish and English: Bren Alvarez, Merche Bautista, and Tina Escaja.

Walking into the gallery is like passing through a flowered bower, with embroidered works by Merche Bautista, (her part of the exhibit entitled Chuuy Pixan : Bordar Alma : Embroider Soul) on both walls. Huipils, richly embroidered poncho-like garments worn by traditional women in many Latin American countries, are displayed on the left, and an impressive grouping of 3 rows of 13 embroideries of skulls (calaveras), dating from 2010-2012, on the right. Twenty of the 39 skull embroideries, inexpensively priced at $100 each or 2 for $180, were sold at the opening reception which, according to organizers, allowed Bautista to pay her children's fares to attend the exhibit with her.

The central area of the gallery showcases Instantánea : Snapshot, hanging scrolls by Bren Alvarez, each of which tells  the story of a person of her acquaintance who has moved to the Burlington area from some other part of the world. Alvarez’s black and white  photographs (“snapshots”) of each of these prople are printed on rectangular hanging scrolls suspended from the ceiling, each about the size and width of a person, so that walking up to and among them is like truly  being in the presence of these many migrants to Vermont. The texts, printed on associated scrolls of the same dimensions, tell the story of how each of the subjects came to reside here.

The last of Alvarez’s portraits, that of Tina Escaja, leads to Escaja’s installations. 13 Lunas 13  : 13 Moons 13 is the title of both a book of  Escaja’s poetry, and her exploration of menstruation and women's empowerment, subjects of the installations in this exhibit. I’ll Wrap You in Velvet, a stained glass window built by Laurence Ribbecke, contains an image of a capirote hood (worn by celebrants in the Easter week processions in Spain) at the center, modified by the artist to include a burka-type eye opening, with text about the denial to women of the right to wear the hood. Visitors can also enter the Confessional Booth to record their menstrual stories in a “project involving art, poetry, interactive technology and testimony.....on these topics, many of which are considered taboo... and at the same time, providing the opportunity for self-reflection and testimony or confession.”

This major exhibit was shown previously at the Living/Learning Gallery at UVM and  originally in a very different geographic location as Tejiendo tramas / Tramando historias at Galería Edelo, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas (México), in July, 2011.