Knockdown Center is pleased to present Morir Soñando, a multimedia group exhibition on view June 22 – August 19, 2018. Artists Penn Eastburn, Valery Jung Estabrook, Hein Koh, Joiri Minaya, Kristianne Molina, Onel Naar, Esther Ruiz, Cristina Tufiño, and Woolpunk engage with softness and vulnerability in their work addressing contemporary social and political issues.
The exhibition’s title, Morir Soñando, is borrowed from the popular Dominican beverage made of orange juice and milk. When combined with the acidity in the juice, and if not made at the proper temperature or mixed with a particular rhythm, the milk has the potential to curdle. A careful, soft choreography is necessary to infuse two unlikely ingredients in delicious harmony.
The delicate process of making morir soñando, and its resistance to easy preparation and consumption parallels the artists’ use of materials. Working across painting, sculpture, textiles, and video, each artist approaches difficult subject matter such as racial tensions, gender-based violence, neocolonial trauma, and environmental concerns, but do so in subtle, soft ways, employing care and attention to their engagement with materials. Together, the works included articulate the potential of vulnerability as a tool for liberation.
During the opening reception, an artistic intervention by Joiri Minaya, “To keep from curdling,” invites the audience to drink a special morir soñando in honor of those who have died dreaming, symbolically ingesting one’s inactions with the purpose not of integration, but of transformation. By enunciating our missed potentials and acknowledging their normalization, we envision the alternative of what things would look like if we were to become more active, collectively.
About the Artists:
Penn Eastburn is a painter, filmmaker, and digital animator. His paintings explore the accidental beauty and abstraction of ordinary, often overlooked spaces and elements found in the urban landscape, as well as the permanence of the things we create, both as artists and inhabitants of Earth.
Valery Jung Estabrook is a multidisciplinary Korean American artist whose work explores identity and technology. She seeks to push the boundaries of how we interact with and perceive new media by using unexpected approaches and materials. Often installed as themed tableaus, the work is intended to be experienced through various sensate strategies by asking the audience to not simply “view” but to also touch and feel. These multi-media presentations provide the audience with an immediacy of engagement, making complex narratives personalized and accessible.
Hein Koh is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Utilizing soft sculpture as her primary medium, Koh subverts traditional gendered expectations about sexuality, motherhood, and femininity. Her practice incorporates irreverent humor, tactile play, and a detailed attention to materials. Like the destabilizing fluidity present in gender itself, much of her work embodies “a balance between the beautiful and the grotesque”––a surrealist exploration of the inner psyche.
Joiri Minaya is a Dominican-American artist born in 1990. Living between the United States and the Dominican Republic (and having lived in Belgium for a while) has made Minaya aware of her own difference and subjectivity depending on context. Influenced by this, her work meditates on representation, identity constructions, gender roles, migration and nature from a personal place but also through larger transcultural and historical frames.
Born in Manila, Philippines, artist Kristianne Molina’s interdisciplinary practices gravitate toward deconstructing natural dyeing techniques as a painting process, textiles, embroidery, installation, stop-motion, performance and wearable arts. Kristianne’s intention in her work is to reflect the marriage of her Philippine-American experiences and to respond to current events prevalent in her generation. Her research with natural dyes stems from a rediscovery of her Philippine roots and ancestral textiles. The colors extracted from cochineal are linked to the history of Spanish and American colonization in the Philippines.
Onel Naar is an American artist of Puerto Rican and Lebanese Dominican descent born in the South Bronx of the late 70s to immigrant parents. A recurring interest in his work is the dynamics inherent to diptychs––exploring the interplay between physical and conceptual dualities. Representative of seemingly disparate themes like the mysticism recurrent in both consumer culture and religious rhetoric, Naar’s work speaks to the conflicts within diasporic currents and their respective homelands.
Esther Ruiz is an LA-based sculptor who creates objects that operate simultaneously as miniature landscapes from a distant future and actual size sculptures informed by the family of Minimalism. Inspired by space operas, pop culture, geometry, and the setting sun, her works employ color and form mimicking natural processes.
Cristina Tufiño is a visual artist inspired by consumer goods, industrial debris and autobiographical narratives and objects. She addresses her practice as an archaeologist hoarder rummaging through a broad cultural system of references, with a particular nod to artifacts and museological aesthetics. Her multimedia works arise from a process of assembling, associating and translating images and ideas inspired by seemingly oppositional languages and spaces.
Woolpunk is an American artist, born in Summit, NJ in 1971. She is inspired by an immigrant seamstress grandmother who sewed American flags. Woolpunk uses a variety of craft techniques and materials to create knitted installations, quilted sculptures, and embroidered photographs.
About the Curator:
Alex Santana is a visual arts scholar and writer, with a deep interest in politically-engaged contemporary art and curatorial studies. She earned her B.A. from NYU and her M.A. from Tulane University, focusing on Latin American & Caribbean art history. She has held positions at El Museo del Barrio (New York, NY), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Newcomb Art Museum (New Orleans, LA), the Joan Mitchell Center (New Orleans, LA), and Mana Contemporary (Jersey City, NJ). Originally from Newark, NJ, Alex is a child of immigrants from Spain and the Dominican Republic.