CHRISTA MARQUEZ FEATURED AT HARWOOD
Christa Marquez exhibits a tumbleweed sculpture — held together with tension, no glue
Studio 238 is coming to the end of its first year of success at the Harwood Museum of Art. This studio concept is a one-month pop-up exhibition conceived by Matt Thomas, collections manager and creator of collections. It is located on the second floor of the Harwood, in the Peter and Madeleine Martin Atrium Gallery.
The April artistin-residence is Christa Marquez, who prefers the use of gender-neutral pronouns (they/them/their). In Studio
238, Marquez will exhibit their installation wall relief, titled “161,” from Monday (April 1) until April 29. An opening reception with the artist is planned April 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. Regular museum admission fees apply.
The press announcement states that the “161” installation is a wall relief created with small tumbleweed twigs. The work speaks to themes of place and impermanence through its use of biodegradable, natural, and local materials.
“This will be our 11th exhibit at Studio 238,” Thomas said. “We are almost at our one-year mark of our first year. The goal is to bring emerging, new, unseen, fun, and/ or interesting art into the Harwood. That keeps things fresh because a lot of the museum exhibits stay on the walls for upwards of three or more months.”
Thomas said he looks for a newly completed series that he hasn’t seen from a particular artist. Or, it could be an artist’s “voice” that has not yet been heard at the museum.
He has known Marquez from their previous work and is excited to see their evolution as an artist. Tempo took note of her work in a feature published in April 2014.
The sculpture’s “161” name reflects the total number of tumbleweed pieces that will be made on-site and drilled into the wall.
The fun part is that Marquez isn’t installing the art; Thomas is.
Acknowledging the mirthfulness of this approach, Thomas explained, “The art pieces will arrive in a box. I will have instructions on how to install it, and then I am to leave it alone. There is an element of time involved: For the next 30 days, the piece will start to fall off the wall, to move, to fail, to break, to lean. It will take on a life of its own.”
Marquez has taught art workshops at the Harwood Museum of Art and art classes at the University of New Mexico-Taos. They recently graduated with a masters degree from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and this sculpture was their master’s thesis.
“The point of the piece is to show that every day is similar and singular and precious, but different. As a whole, it shows our connectivity to time and to each other. Our stability and fragility are impermanent. Those were the ideas I wanted to illustrate in this piece. It is built with love, as an offering to that idea, that we are all connected to the tapestry,” Marquez said.
The installation work measures 7 feet by 15 feet. Marquez described it as “two-and-a-half dimensional” sculpture. “It’s not a stand-alone. It is still clinging to the 2D world that I come from. I tried to be fully out and away from the wall, but it’s a disaster,” they said.
Just the mention of the word “tumbleweed” elicits some whimsy. After all, this is a natural force many people reckon with during high winds.
The artist explained their “amazing relationship” with tumbleweed; it literally showed up at their front door on the land where they live.
“It took me years to bring it in.
I had gone through the process of de-industrializing my art materials. I’d been using pigment, paper, and other natural materials. I decided to take this other leap to tumbleweed,” Marquez said.
The artist explained that a queer lens informs their approach to art. “Tumbleweed is a queer material. It’s always been here and always will be,” they said.
The artist worked with the sticks to see if it was possible to build with just tumbleweed as the one and only material. Marquez succeeded: the piece is held together with tension –– no glue.
Sending the pieces to Thomas to install won’t be the first time Marquez has done this. They recently shipped this piece to the Salina Art Center in Kansas for the Mountain Plains States Biennial. Marquez sent photographs, instructions and diagrams.
Marquez leaves one part of the installation to the installer. The piece is a grid (18-by-20 pieces) except for one piece. The installer gets to decide on the leg of that grid where it goes, to extend the sculpture in one increment in any direction.
“This piece reflects the interconnected tapestry that we are all part of. The fact that we are all self-powered and we can walk around this earth without being attached. But we need each other. Taos exemplifies that in the way that the community takes care of itself,” Marquez said.
The Harwood Museum of Art is located at 238 Ledoux Street. For more information, call (575) 7589826 or visit harwoodmuseum.org.
ARTIST Christa Marquez