San Antonio, Texas, USA
February 17, 2021 – May 22, 2021
Ruiz-Healy Art presents Plurality of Isolations at their San Antonio gallery featuring works by RF Alvarez, Jesse Amado, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Jenelle Esparza, Barbara Miñarro, Cecilia Paredes, Ethel Shipton, and Carlos Rosales-Silva. The exhibition opened on Wednesday, February 17.
Plurality of Isolations touches on the experiences shared by many during the COVID-19 pandemic, political distress, and fragile economic environment. The exhibition is an assemblage of the meditations of these artists who share common themes—separation, upheaval, unrest, and hope for better days to come. These periods of hardship indelibly cast a mark on art and shape the course of art history. Though the COVID-19 crisis has had a severe emotional and economic impact on the artistic community, artists are regrouping and reinventing themselves for this new normal as they have done in past catastrophes and have helped those most afflicted find solace through their work.
RF Alvarez has moved away from his previously Eden-like allegorical paintings and instead turned the lens, “I’ve moved away from allegory, turned the lens onto the room I dream in rather than the dream itself. What dreams I do paint are distant now, faded, almost coming undone the longer time passes. These works represent a sampling of that sea-change, how a pandemic affects a studio practice.
About his most recent work, Jesse Amado comments that “the work reflects an examination of the universal trauma that befalls humanity, compounded by the political nightmare assault on democracy and civil disintegration confronting us all.”
Jenelle Esparza is optimistic about the future: “I’m hoping not for things to go back to normal, but for things to get moving again in a new way.” She is interested in the interconnected identities tied to landscapes and their histories, and in her newest series, she repurposes cast bronze spurs (the husk remaining after cotton is picked) into symbols of cultivation, survival, and family.
During the pandemic, Bárbara Miñarro comments that she “wrote phrases and words that stood out to me from news, songs, books, and even social media.” Incorporating these phrases into her current work, she observes that “these words gave me a sense of belonging and even empowerment.”
As Cecilia Paredes creates her current work, she remarks that “fragility is in my mind.” Her newest works, Allegory and Magnolia Stories, references “the unavoidable reminder of the presence of death during the pandemic,” and the proximity of her studio to a local hospital constantly reminds her of this.
Carlos Rosales-Silva states that because of the pandemic New York City commercial rents sales plummeted, “ I was able to move into a studio for rent that wouldn’t have been possible previously. Immediately I was able to get a studio and keep working, and that’s what has kept me grounded throughout this time. However, the pandemic has affected my community in New York really deeply. It’s put people out of work, and it’s made it harder for working-class artists to work in order to survive.”
Ethel Shipton takes into consideration the fact that we are about to have a year of living through a global pandemic. She states, “during COVID-19 we’ve all learned to live with less. Less contact, less connection, many people with less food, less money, and sadly many with less family and friends in their lives.” Shipton has been preoccupied with history and the past and what the future could look like. Shipton reworked her Exit Sign series and reordered them to place Cotulla at the center of the seven signs. In 1845 the US-Mexico border was the Nueces River and not the Rio Grande. The first US town after crossing the Nueces River is Cotulla, a significant place for the artist as one of the birthplaces of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “I am optimistic that the world can change for the better, I keep thinking that Life is never what you can see.”