American Art Collector - - Contents - Blue Rain Gallery 544 S. Guadalupe Street • Santa Fe, NM 87501 (505) 954-9902 • www.bluerain­

Las Men­i­nas

Erin Cur­rier trav­els the world get­ting to know in­dige­nous peo­ple, par­tic­i­pat­ing in their causes and col­lect­ing the cast off ephemera of their lives. Their per­sonal and so­ciopo­lit­i­cal lives ap­pear in her paint­ings along with col­lages as­sem­bled from their de­tri­tus.

Her lat­est work will be shown in the ex­hi­bi­tion Las Men­i­nas at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, Septem­ber 14 through 29.

The paint­ings in this ex­hi­bi­tion re­fer to art his­tor­i­cal prece­dents. She ap­pro­pri­ates the com­po­si­tion and color palette of the orig­i­nals and of­ten “sub­verts” their mes­sages—re­plac­ing de­mure Poly­ne­sian women in a Gau­guin painting with Peru­vian women hold­ing a protest sign stat­ing, “We’re in­dige­nous. We’re not Sav­ages.” The sign refers to the Peru­vian gov­ern­ment hav­ing called its in­dige­nous peo­ple “sav­ages.” Cur­rier par­tic­i­pated in protests on a re­cent visit to the Ama­zon jun­gle in Peru. Whereas the women in Gau­guin’s painting look away from the viewer, Cur­rier’s sub­jects gaze straight out.

Her ref­er­ences to clas­sic paint­ings, such as Las Men­i­nas by Velázquez and works by oth­ers from Pi­casso to Van Gogh, em­body the Ja­panese con­cept of honkadori, “an al­lu­sion within a poem to an older poem which would be gen­er­ally rec­og­nized by its read­ers,” she ex­plains. “Al­though some­times copied word for word, honkadori goes be­yond a mere ref­er­ence to an­other poem by seek­ing to af­fect the reader in the same way as the orig­i­nal poem but with dif­fer­ence in mean­ing and at­mos­phere.

“For me, as an artist,” she con­tin­ues, “the mo­ment is now to rec­og­nize and pay my re­spect to those who came be­fore me through honkadori—by ap­proach­ing sig­nif­i­cant works with the same courage with which they were orig­i­nally ren­dered, but within a wholly new and rad­i­cal con­text rel­e­vant to the 21st cen­tury.”

One painting, Dolores Huerta (af­ter Van Gogh’s Il Giar­diniere), em­bod­ies the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and the artist’s pas­sion for her sub­jects. Huerta is one of her heroes—the co­founder (with César Chávez) of the Na­tional Farm­work­ers Association, which

later be­came the United Farm Work­ers. Huerta, now 88, has vis­ited Cur­rier in her Santa Fe stu­dio.

Van Gogh’s painting is sym­met­ri­cal, the fig­ure is cen­tered and the hands are not shown—com­po­si­tional as­pects that are coun­ter­in­tu­itive to the artist. She emu­lates Van Gogh’s dis­tinc­tive brush­strokes in the back­ground with col­laged el­e­ments from her col­lec­tion of cast off pa­per. She ad­mires Van Gogh’s por­traits of com­mon work­ing peo­ple, and she chose it as a fit­ting con­text for her por­trait of Huerta.

“The paint­ings con­nect with art his­tory,” she says, “and they’re a cross-cul­tural ref­er­ence of strong, fierce and fear­less women.”

1UFC Fighter Rose Na­ma­ju­nas as the Not-So-Re­pen­tant-Mag­dalena (af­ter Fetti), acrylic and mixed me­dia on panel, 36 x 24" 2Dolores Huerta (af­ter Vin­cent Van Gogh’s Il Giar­diniere), acrylic and mixed me­dia on panel, 24 x 18" 3Study for Santa Rosa de Lima (af­ter Tiepolo), mixed me­dia col­lage and pen and china marker pa­per, 15 x 11"4Denisa (af­ter Manet), mixed me­dia col­lage and pen and china marker pa­per, 7½ x 11"

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