Pasó por aquí, in English, translates to: passed by here. It is the beginning of several sentences carved into the sandstone by Spanish conquistadores at El Morro National Monument. Coincidentally, a less formal translation is: happened by here, which is more fitting in order to place the emergence of Latinx culture in what is now the United States in New Mexico. That record exists as one of the earliest inscriptions at El Morro dated 1605. The painful and complex history that merges Indigenous American, Spanish, and African cultures is also evidenced by New Mexico’s Spanish missions. The ambition that sculpted the handmade smooth adobe walls by a united, nascent identity is palpable and parallel to the entries preserved on the slick sandstone.
Enrique Figueredo carves the formidable, historic churches into woodblocks mimicking the cutting of living mud and rock. Figueredo makes rubbings of the inscriptions with graphite and paper, satisfying the physical connection between his Spanish ancestry and the New Mexico landscape. The carved line and the mission structures are treated as individual marks that speak the same language and employ relief printing to retell a well-known narrative. These lines are a measure of time, labor, location, and spirituality. Collectively they archive naturally decaying landmarks and storytelling.
Bark beetles, also known as fir engravers, kill millions of trees in the American Southwest every year by scoring linear abstractions throughout the trunks. The inclusion of the beetle’s mark in this work is not an accidental use of lines made by an invasive insect. They are symbolic of the intricate relationship that the missions have with the land, and their codices are similar to the characters inscribed by the conquistadores. The interplay of the writing styles collapses species and time, which suggests unearthly forces behind the mark making. Figueredo skillfully compares the damage caused by the inscriptions at El Morro, the engravings of the bark beetle, and the building of Spanish missions to question humanity and nature’s instinctual urge to carve, colonize, and destroy. The images are displayed as rubbings and woodcuts printed together but separated on paper to further emphasize the duality of the phrase: Pasó por aquí.
Enrique Figueredo is a Venezuelan-American artist who immigrated from South America at a young age. Working primarily in woodcut, he creates outdoor public installations and hand-printed works on paper that respond to current events. He studies the origins of the New World and the technologies of printmaking to visually weave together his ancestral traces. Enrique follows the Venezuelan diaspora closely and he spends most of his time trying to make sense of Latin America–United States relations. He is naively optimistic that through endless research he will find the answers that will help heal a complicated Western Hemisphere.