Installation View: “En la luz como ceniza”

Jorge González (b. Puerto Rico, 1981) received his BFA from the Puerto Rico School of Visual Arts in 2006. Residencies include Beta-Local, San Juan in (2012) and the Davidoff Residency Program in Bogota (2017), and more. Here C& América Latina features his work from “En la luz como ceniza,” which was on view earlier this year at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture [Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP)] in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Jorge González uses traditional craft techniques from the Yokot’án indigenous culture (Mexico), such as clay-coated construction, bamboo fiber weaving, handcrafted fabrics with Soles de Naranjito lace, and drawing with soot, to create dialogues with the contemporary.

Creator of the Escola de Ofícios, a research and practice platform, in which participants map, document and employ artisanal techniques in the creation of artworks, Jorge González presented his solo exhibition En la luz como ceniza (In the light as grays), organized by the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP) at the Arsenal of the Spanish Navy, the result of his research over the past decade.

For his most recent solo show, he created a mud-covered construction overlaid with woven bamboo and palm fibers and metal candleholders. The different media reveal the exchange of diverse knowledge, such as the Puerto Rican textile work of Soles de Naranjito and the making of tallow candles, according to the Yokot’an indigenous tradition (Mexico). The space also includes a large-format soot drawing, contributing to the intention of bringing together offering and protection in the venue.

According to curator Michy Marxuach, “the in situ installations are the result of learning that was transmitted by wise men and women, who, in turn, promote respect for mysteries that can only be incarnated when we distance ourselves from hegemonic languages and traditional forms. Western ways of relating to the world, beings and production”.

En la luz como ceniza was on display until February 17, 2023 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Layering references from ancient and modern influences, Jorge González’s work revolves around re-establishing lost artistic techniques of the Caribbean, and in particular Puerto Rico. His socially-engaged practice finds its manifestation in collaboration with various artisans and in-depth research of lost trades related to arts and crafts. González was inspired by German-American architect Henry Klumb’s collaboration with craft workers when he arrived to the island to found the Escuela de Oficios (Trade School), which functions as a symbolic space that honors Klumb’s ideals about learning. At the Escuela de Oficios, knowledge—ranging from ancestral techniques to collective practices—is shared during mobile meetings taking place across Puerto Rico so that participants can learn from local artisans and engage in conversation, workshops, and exhibitions.

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[Photos above by Raquel Perez-Puig: Jorge González, En la luz como ceniza: Las Cabañuelas, December 21, 2022 to February 17, 2023, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), San Juan, courtesy of the artist and the Embassy, San Juan.]

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