Chronicles of Uprooting

Juana Córdova

In Residence: May 28 – Jul 22, 2019

Exhibition: Jul 18 – Sep 8, 2019

Juana Córdova is well-known for her subtle, but poetic, responses to our natural world using unexpected materials. For the duration of her residency at Artpace, she focused on two species of plants from the Americas: achiote (Bixa Orellana) and the tumbleweed (Russian Thistle). The tumbleweed arrived in the Americas in a shipment of flaxseed from Russia, and in the western United States conditions were perfect for its propagation. Achiote originated the Amazon jungle and its presence extends into the tropical regions of Central and South America.

Achiote are seeds from a shrub that are typically dried, ground, and used as a spice or dye in cosmetics, textiles, and gastronomy since the Pre-Columbian era. It is well-known in Ecuador and is used in ritual practices of Tsáchilas or “colorados,” indigenous people of Ecuador, for its associated curative properties. The artist chose to use achiote because of its characteristic color (the natural color code is E160b) which historically has been used in food and clothing. Exodus, installed the southwest corner of the gallery, is composed entirely of achiote seeds which speaks both literally and figuratively to the spread of both flora and people.

For a number of works in the gallery, the artist used tumbleweeds, a plant that once dry, breaks from its roots and travels with the wind, disseminating its seeds. Tumbleweeds carry with them their own connotations in popular culture as icons of the American West and metaphorical representations of western expansion, contrary to their actual Russian origins. Córdova states, “I see tumbleweeds as a symbol of freedom, a plant that travels through deserts with the help of the wind. It is a species that detaches from the land and scatters its seeds aimlessly.”

Córdova’s attention to the history and behavior of botanical life that spreads from its origins to abroad is germane in border states such as Texas. Myriad connections can be made between the journey of these plants and those of immigrants who leave their homes, in search of better conditions and relief from wars and poverty.

Download Gallery Notes PDF for Chronicles of Uprooting


Juana Córdova

Cuenca, Ecuador

Juana Córdova was born in Cuenca, Ecuador in 1973, where she studied and obtained her bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts. She was elected as Ecuador’s representative at the VIII Cuenca Biennial (2004). In her country she has had several individual exhibitions such as Las Manos en la Masa (2006) at Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca by El Comercio Foundation. One of her most recent exhibitions A la Orilla (2016), shown at the Municipal Museum of Modern Art of Cuenca, exhibited a panoramic view of her work.
She has participated in collective events since 1998 and her work has been shown in Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Ecuador, Spain and the United States in exhibitions such as Intimacy is Politics: Sex, Gender, Language, Power, Metropolitan Cultural Center, Quito (2017); PANGAEA Artistic fellowship, Galerie der Künstler, Munich(2012); and Curare Quito, Quito City Museum (2007).
During her twenty-year career, the places she has lived have influenced the topics she approaches. From the city or the countryside, her work explores the role of the individual in contemporary society and its relationship with nature. Her installations and objects express concern for the environment.
She has obtained prizes and distinctions in her country including Special Mention, Paris Prize, of the French Alliance (2000);National Salon of the Cuenca Biennial(2003); El Comercio Foundation and Mariano Aguilera Prize (2004 and 2005). She has participated in both national and international artist-in-residence programs.

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Karina Aguilera Skvirsky

New York, New York, USA / Easton, Pennsylvania, USA

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky is a multi-disciplinary artist who works in photography, video and performance. Her work has been exhibited internationally in group and solo exhibitions. In 2015 she was awarded a Fulbright grant and a Jerome Foundation Grant to produce “The Perilous Journey of María Palacios,” a performance-based film that premiered in the 2016 Cuenca Biennale curated by Dan Cameron. In 2010 she participated in There is always a cup of sea for man to sail, the 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010), where she exhibited work from her project, Memories of Development.
Artist in Residence programs she has participated in include: Office Hours, at El museo del barrio, NY, NY; LMCC Workspace, NY, NY; MacDowell Residency, NH; Smackmellon, Brooklyn, NY and others.
Skvirsky is an Associate Professor of Art at Lafayette College, Easton, PA and an MFA faculty member at The New School, Parsons School of Design, NY, NY. She is represented by Ponce + Robles Gallery in Spain.

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