The Sacred Portal of Amaxactli (place where the waters split) – 2022

Luis Valderas

Exhibition: Sep 8, 2022 – Jan 1, 2023

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.  


Luis Valderas

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Luis Valderas received a BFA in Art Education from the University of Texas-Pan American in 1995. In 2005, Valderas co-founded and produced Project: MASA I, II, III, IV & V—a national group exhibit featuring Latino artists and focusing on Chicano identities. He also co-founded The A3 Press and Bishop & Valderas, LLC, a large-scale printmaking community engagement collaborative and production house. Currently, Valderas is a mentor and board member for the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). He has exhibited at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (MOA), Medellín Modern Art Museum, Medllín, Colombia, the Queens Museum, Queens, NY, and the UCR-Arts Block, Riverside, CA. His work is featured in books such as Altermundos-Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film and Popular Culture (2017), Mundos Alternos-Art, Science Fiction in the Americas (2017), Chicano Art for Our Millennium (2004), and Triumph in Our Communities: Four Decades of Mexican American Art (2005). He is in the permanent collections of the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Arizona State University, Art Museum of South Texas, and the San Antonio Museum of Art.  

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