Naomi Wanjiku & Jose Balli
Exhibition Dates: November 9 - December 1
Opening Reception: November 9, 2018, 7pm-10pm
Artist Talk: November 9, 2018, 8pm
Guest Curated by Hillarey Jones
Clamp Light Artist Studios and Gallery is proud to present CYCLICAL RHYTHMS, an exhibition featuring the work of artists Naomi Wanjiku and Jose Balli. In the exhibiton Naomi Wanjiku and Jose Balli’s work cohesively addresses themes of rebirth, fertility, rejuvenation, spirituality, and the cyclical nature of identity. The use of found objects and textures that represent their cultures and experiences of their everyday lives play a key role in their respective practices. Both artists harness ideas of functionality, fragility, the ephemeral, and the effort to preserve cultural identity through the exploration of objects or symbols that remain throughout generational transistions within a cultural group.
About the Artists:
Naomi Wanjiku is an African artist that grew up amongst the Kikuyu, considered the largest ethnic group in Kenya. In this exhibition Wanjiku will fill the gallery with massive galvanized sheet metal installations, known in Swahili as mabati. This material references the success of the Mabati Womens Group of the1960s, a movement that grew in response to a period unrest in Kenya that forced village men to travel to cities for work and often left women for weeks at a time alone with their families. This isolation forced women to explore new methods of self-sufficiency in the home and resulted in the practice of replacing their thatched roofs with corrugated metal to address the need for clean drinking water, dramatically transforming their quality of life. Wanjiku mirrors the weathering effects that the metal roofs would then endure in her own creative process by deliberately saturating rolls of sheet metal in water, oxidizing and transforming the reflective metal into a vibrantly colorful and textured surface. The sculpture featured at the center of the exhibition, Gitüro, is itself inspired by a song-dance that was often performed during marriage ceremonies to facilitate the transition of women from the Kikuyu village from youth into adulthood.
Jose Balli is from Reynosa Tamaulipas, Mexico and McAllen, Texas. His work explores the evolving representation of his native culture over time through the use of symbolic iconography significant to his cultural background. In his Snake Skin collection, he uses shed rattlesnake skins to illustrate the iconic image of the Virgin de Guadalupe. In harvesting the skin from the landscapes of south Texas and northern Mexico, Balli alludes to his own cultural ambiguity, as well as the cyclical rejuvenation of a sacred cultural symbol. The mixed media pieces featured in the exhibiton juxtapose the delicate rattlesnake skin against the historical Catholic iconographic figure and its Pre-Columbian origin.