Ana Rosa Rivera Marrero’s exhibition “Contorno deshilado” [which may be translated as “frayed outline” or “unraveled contours”] is on view until December 7, 2019, at Liga de Arte de San Juan, located at Dr. Francisco Rufino de Goenaga Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here are excerpts from the catalog essay “De figuraciones en fibras: ‘Contorno deshilado’ de Ana Rosa Rivera Marrero” by Emeshe Juhász-Mininberg.
[. . .] “With this project I have had to know again [or to re discover] how one thing comes out of the other,” observes Rivera Marrero, “I am interested in the idea of origin.” Thread and needle work, to which the title of the exhibition alludes and which appears in three of the sculptures, goes back to that interest. She learned how to weave with bobbins, to embroider, and to unravel with her grandmother. These tasks occupied long afternoons in her childhood and adolescence, and years later, they were part of what motivated her to study at the School of Visual Arts [Escuela de Artes Plásticas (EAP)]. It is not about nostalgia but rather about recognizing roots and how, in different ways, they feed artistic work and modes of understanding the world. In this exhibition, the artist decontextualizes the sewing tools and ornamentation techniques associated with the domestic and feminine space, traditionally excluded from the art world. She uses them as elements of construction and coding whose original language is amplified to distort the customary ways of seeing and understanding. In some sense, they outline a metaphor about the artist’s work that unfolds in the tension between her private space—the workshop—and the public space—the streets of Old San Juan, where she lives.
The concept of re-utilizing, of rescuing, both material and traditional tasks, for a new purpose, also arises from that interest in studying how one thing forms and informs another. The wood used in all the pieces comes from the fallen mahogany tree, and each of them contains fragments of the mahogany trunk in a natural or rustically finished state, be it as an integral element or a gesture of recognition of the material from which the construction emerges. The baluster used as a lace bobbin is the only object not made from the fallen tree. The artist extracted it from a railing discarded in a trash bin in Old San Juan, removing thick layers of paint to reveal the original wood. Thus, the idea of origin is outlined as a dynamic point of reference whose readings diverge and are transformed. “Knowing how one thing comes out of the other” is a process of memory; it is lost and enriched with the passing of time, with the cycles of destruction and renewal of nature, with the transmission from one generation to another, with something as simple as the restoration of a building.
Like branches sprouting from a tree, the floating panels of white burlap increase the visual volume of the sculpture in the center of the exhibition room. The rectangles of fabric, canvases on which the fraying ones are drawn, are sieves that filter the gaze and play with it. According to the viewer’s position relative to the central scaffolding, multiple spaces are charted, ethereally demarcated by a series of thresholds and panels like screens. The notion of what constitutes the interior and exterior manifests itself in a fluid way, continually changing. As a traditional ornamentation technique, the fraying constitutes a clear confection that conceals/makes invisible the perforation of the needle, the cut of the scissors, and the sewn finish. Rivera Marrero’s goal in “Contorno deshilado,” however, is to dig through the seams, deconstruct and reveal structures to inhabit the “in progress.” [. . .]
Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. See full essay and catalog at file:///C:/Users/ivette.romero/Downloads/catalogo%20contorno%20deshilado%20ana%20rosa.pdf