OCTOBER 11, 2022 — UTSA proudly announces the return of one of the most distinguished Peruvian-American artists to San Antonio with the “Kukuli Velarde: CORPUS” exhibition at the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries at the UTSA Southwest Campus.
The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, explores issues of colonialism, cultural identity, aesthetics and the performance of self. It runs through Saturday, November 5.
“CORPUS” includes 15 ceramic sculptures, each with matching tapestries that are presented in a symbolic representation of the annual Corpus Christi festival in Cusco, Perú. The sculptures reference indigenous pre-Columbian forms and iconographies in a visual representation of syncretic aesthetic, cultural and religious traditions.
“I approach Pre-Colombian aesthetics searching for cultural and ethnic commonalities, claiming them as my heritage while engaging the audience in conversations about colonization and coloniality, contemporary history, social justice and racism,” Velarde said of her work.
“CORPUS” engages with and confronts Perú’s Spanish colonial past by asserting the pre-Columbian sacred entities and the worldview they inhabit, which were not vanquished by Spanish conquerors but instead cleverly blended with their Catholic counterparts, ensuring their survival.
Similarly, the diverse peoples of Perú and greater Latin America formed and reformed political, religious and cultural identity in the shadow of centuries-long oppression. Velarde’s “CORPUS” asks viewers to consider this resilience via her stunningly detailed and humorously thought-provoking work.
Velarde raises fascinating questions about the inner life of art objects, as well as the exotic "Othering" of sacred rituals like Corpus Christi that now also serve as tourist attractions for visitors to Perú.
Based in Philadelphia, Velarde is a multi-talented artist, working in ceramics, painting, drawing and installation. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Hunter College in New York City and is the recipient of several awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2015), Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant (2012) and Joan Mitchell Foundation grant (1997).
Her work can be found in the collections of Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Lima, Perú; Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, among many other art venues.
“Pre-Colombian art is my most genuine aesthetic inheritance,” Velarde said. “It is what people who look like me created in their likeness long ago, when they were the center of their own universe.”
The touring exhibition was hosted by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College before coming to UTSA.
Thanks to generous support from the Alturas Foundation and the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts, the exhibition can be viewed between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, at the Russell Hill Rogers Galleries, located at the UTSA Southwest Campus (formerly Southwest School of Art) in the Santikos Building, 1201 Navarro St., San Antonio, Texas 78205.
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