Florescent Virgins: Contemporary Altars and Offerings For the Dead
Exhibition:October 25th-November 8th, 2012
The image of Guadalupe glows in a rainbow of blinking fluorescent lights, her hands in prayer above a rubber snake and sabila plant. “Fluorescent Virgins” displays a variety of altars that combine the traditional with the contemporary. Rooted in Latino folklore, these altars have been created for thousands of year to honor the dead. This form of tribute is commonly associated with the Mexican derived Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), and many other Latin-American cultures have similar tributes, such as the pre-Incan Moche culture (from Peru) that display representations of sex, death, and human sacrifice. The components of the altar vary by maker and often reflect the individual who assembled it. The personal items displayed are trophies and tokens of great emotional value that together speak an intimate narrative.
The artists represented in “Fluorescent Virgins” showcase not only their religious and ceremonial offerings but also collections of everyday domestic items that tend to communicate a whimsy; objects are grouped and placed strategically to communicate loftier themes, other than death. The seeming pop-culture of contemporary altars contends with the dark subject matter of death. Agony is simultaneously mixed with joy, dark is co-mingled with light, bright colors and sacred candles are framed in skulls and rats. The altars are more than an idolization of the deceased, but the artist’s struggle with death itself. Many altars in “Fluorescent Virgins” are a declaration of the artist’s own struggle with morality, the memory of past loved ones, and the belief in something greater than oneself. Curators: Pilar Gordillo and Carolyn Ho