Christa Mar­quez ex­hibits a tum­ble­weed sculp­ture ­— held to­gether with ten­sion, no glue

Tempo - - CONTENTS - By Yvonne Pes­quera

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 har­wood­mu­


ARTIST Christa Mar­quez

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