The fall Main Space exhibition features local artist and City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture 2022 Individual Artist Grant Recipient Luis Valderas. In his exhibition, The Sacred Portal of Amaxactli (place where the waters split) – 2022, Valderas creates an installation inspired by ancient portals opened by Mesoamerican shamans. Throughout human history, portals have taken many forms, and the parallel realities they connect are described at length in the myths and spiritual practices of ancient cultures of the world. Our continued fascination with portals can be seen today in both popular culture and scientific experiments, which make them part of our current reality. Drawing from Zapotec sculpture imagery, Valderas sculpted figureheads representing three Aztec deities – Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, and Huitzilopochtli.
The figureheads are made of Styrofoam, a shipping material that protects wares from being damaged while being shipped thousands of miles across many borders and discarded upon arrival. This packaging is engineered to keep the objects safe but has also created aesthetic forms, which Valderas has integrated into his visual language. By repurposing the Styrofoam and encapsulating it in brown shipping paper, the artist has transformed these shipping materials into a new deity of cardinal status that has traversed multiple borders in this reality.