Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Petticoat Junction

The Rocky's Mary Voelz Chandler:
Imagine a color field painting reborn into a three-dimensional piece of art. That's what Boulder-based artist Ana Maria Hernando envisioned when she created an installation now on view at MCA Denver into April.

Instead of paint, Hernando has heaped more than 100 crocheted petticoats into a towering work aptly named La Montana. . . .

"I arranged them like a painting," Hernando said. "I wanted them to be like moving clouds of color. I wanted the piece to have air, to be expansive, not oppressive."
Nothing worse than oppressive art.
Hernando works in several mediums, but textiles might be closest to her heart. As a child in Buenos Aires, where she was born in 1959, she was taken by the fact the women created elaborate embroidered tablecloths. They were used as a matter of course, painstakingly beautiful objects destined to be covered with
spills. . . .

In the case of La Montana, Hernando turned to the women of Mollamarca, in Peru. About five hours from Cuzco, high in the Andes, the village is home to about 500, including women who weave ponchos for sale. They also make their own petticoats - brightly colored, crocheted underskirts that flare up and out during the dances that are a part of village life.

"It is another model of woman," said Hernando, who moved to the United States from Argentina in the mid-1980s. . . .

"It is an homage to them and to all women. These are such strong women. They move in this community. They all help each other. I wanted to have one from each woman ... a community of petticoats." . . .

Hernando brought the petticoats home, dipped them in resin and, depending on their size, draped them over different types of balls, from basketball to exercise ball [sic]. The result appears to be a mound of mushroom caps, augmented by video projected around the gallery, showing the women of Mollamarca
dancing. . . .
Former MCA executive director Cydney Payton, who curated the installation, said she was interested in Hernando "because of the collaborative nature of her work. It gave another dimension to the artist-in-residence program" in which artists must interact with students and groups of people of all ages.

But the cultural aspects also were important, Payton said.

"She is a voyeur to another culture. This is a respectful and poetic take on Peruvian women and her interest in women's work. She kept a careful artistic distance, something that people should learn about."
Oh, I know enough to keep a careful artistic distance from this, don't worry.
The invisible nature of women's work reverberates with Hernando, drawn from memories of home and the practicalities of being a mother.

"You are caring for others," she said. "In many ways what you do seems transparent. The world is what it is because of millions and millions of women, and men. . . .
Well, thanks for that.

Remind you of anything?

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