Between Heaven and Earth Longwoods Art Project essay by Edwin Ramoran

Edwin Ramoran
Director of the Longwood Arts Project

Grimanesa Amorós orchestrates works that bridge a diversity of forms, themes, and personal issues. In a past artist statement, she wrote about her painting as being analogous to poetry and continued:

I feel that I can reach an orphic mythic reality, plumbing creation so that my work is related to the core of art of the past, to add a link to a specifc lineage, so that enclosed in the work is a metaphor for creation. I usually don’t have a clear idea of what I want to do when I start a canvas. I just respond to what the painting needs.

From this trajectory, Amorós’ current multimedia installations are consistent with a painterly focus that travels along many intermodal channels. Her multisensory environments, Rootless Algas and Between Heaven and Earth, embody an interest in providing a transcultural, third space to complicate binaries of life and art. It also connects feminism and art-making, nature and technology, north and south, city and country, New York and elsewhere. Moreover, these works link the past and present by combining seemingly unrelated media, such as video and sound, with papermaking. Amorós remains true to her pursuit of innovative work and has collaborated and experimented with professional musicians from a wide range of genres: vocalist Susana Baca and composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson for this solo exhibition. Musician Meshell Ndegeocello was also enlisted to produce the soundtrack for a previous work.

In addition, the sculptural forms here are made from the resilient and multipurpose abaca – the banana leaf fber grown and produced in the Philippines, Borneo, and the Americas. Juxtaposed to these sculptural elements are lush, multilayered nature videos derived from travels with her family to Iceland and Norway, then mixed with images of the New York City skyline and housing projects shown large to create a unique cinematic fow throughout the gallery. Furthermore, these two new projects may be considered part of a triptych portrait of her daughter Shammiel, which began with the earlier recent mixed-media installation You Cannot Feel It…I Wish You Could, in which a human fgure is cast from a male head and the artist’s own body when she was pregnant.

Altogether, we are reminded of our natural existence. And, like the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, sensations, specters, and sirens of love, longing, and desire endure.