Collaborations and memory form the focus of Vicente Telles’ latest solo exhibition, Convergence: of Time and Place. “I began my painting career on a chair my grandfather made,” says the artist. “It was a collaboration of sorts: his craftsmanship literally supported my creative practice.”
Known for work that encourages people to grapple with distinctions between words like “traditional” and “contemporary”, Telles uses his mastery of santero techniques to explore subjects that are modern even if they might appear anachronistic. “A santo made in a traditional style can still have relevance today just as immigration issues can be a part of santero culture. The best way to move tradition forward is for it to evolve,” says Vicente.
In Convergence: of Time and Place memories take the form of the artists’ personal experience as well as collective experiences such as border crossings and immigrant detention. “Everything that’s happening right now is shaping memory and culture both on an individual and collective levels. All of us are a part of that no matter how we define our cultural identities. We are responsible for what we put out in the world so we should choose carefully who and what we collaborate with since this will turn into our creations,” Telles shares.
Madrecita depicts a Latina woman, hair braided and decorated with ribbon, face looking forward and steadfast, her head encaged by a cell rimmed with barbed wire, and decorated with flowers. She is not one woman in particular but comes to us much like a santo, a symbol and object of our devotion and an image to reflect collective sorrow.
Convergence: of Time and Place features several collaborative works with artists such as Albuquerque-based Brandon Maldonado and Santa Clara Tewa artist Jason Garcia. Under the Bridge is a sculpture made in collaboration with San Diego artist, Ricardo Islas. Under the Bridge depicts Chicano Park in San Diego, which was set to celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 22 but has been delayed due to COVID-19. Chicano Park was founded in 1970 in Barrio Logan, the heart of the Mexican-American community in San Diego. After the neighborhood was split apart by freeway construction and a spot designated for creation of a park was seen to be building a Highway Patrol station, “locals collectively descended onto the land under the intersection, raised a flag and instituted their own park — Chicano Park.”
“Memories are what shape our cultural heritage. They are passed down in both a personal and collective sense. It’s hard to separate them,” Vicente says. “We collaboratively construct culture through our own experiences influenced by our memories. I put my experiences and the issues I care about in my art practice to share with others.”
Convergence: of Time and Place will open Friday, August 28 and will be on view through September 27. Please note that we are allowing no more than 4 visitors in the gallery at a time and masks are required.