Goya Contemporary Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent work by Baltimore based artist, Soledad Salamé. Often celebrated for fusing new media with traditional techniques to represent the parallel evolution of scientific practice and visual practice, Salamé’s exhibition Looking Back… Looking Forward… features art that investigates the environmental impact of our industrial history. This exhibition corresponds to a companion exhibition at The Print Center in Philadelphia, on view from June 7 – July 27, 2013.
While Soledad’s practice avoids open narration of the events of her life, her art is certainly rooted in the cultural, political and environmental experiences by which she is surrounded. From 1973 to 1983 Salamé (b. Santiago, Chile 1954) lived in Venezuela. At that time, she was exposed to the rainforest, a pivotal experience in her artistic development. In pursuit of knowledge Salamé has since traveled widely in the Americas, Europe and Antarctica, mining each area for its ecological and cultural distinctiveness. More recently her focus has involved aspects of identity, and the aesthetics of identity, filtered through modern technology in an increasingly globalized world.
The current work pinpoints contemporary icons that interact with, or make reference to, artifacts from the past. By way of topographical and multi-unit imagery, Salamé’s artistic vernacular is driven by a deep interest in the progression of societal consequence on both our rural and urban environments. Loosely documenting the passage of time from the industrial revolution on into present-day, Salamé’s artistic manipulation asks the viewer to consider materialism’s impact on our collective identity.
For many years Salamé explored the visual possibilities inherent in digitizing analog photographs, fracturing and abstracting the content through the now antiquated filter of the fax machine. Salamé’s Barcodes: Merging Identity and Technology, 2012-2013, was constructed from a series of barcodes that evolved from her earlier industrial prints titled Gulf Distortions. Made in response to the BP Deepwater Horizon debacle of 2010, Salame arrived at Gulf Distortions after she and her husband, photographer Michael Koryta, journeyed to Louisiana following the disaster. The images transition from views of nature to structures related to the oil industry. Inks with “interference” pigments create subtle shaded iridescent color, while cut and layered sections exaggerate the fracturing process. Salamé is drawn to fractured images, saying they speak “to [the] digital and physical identity each of us has inside… in a sense, our own personal barcode.”
Naturally the resulting highly-abstracted, linear images guided the artist to barcode technology: a computer generated visual representation of everything from supermarket products to people, which speaks of identity while simultaneously masking the essential qualities we attribute to “human identity.”
Grown out of this curiosity, the "Barcodes" series enables the artist to investigate the effects of information reduction through digitalization. Juxtaposing depleted data with new technology, the artist employed auto-cad design systems and laser-cutting tools to craft complex designs out of layered fluorescent Plexiglas that echoes the form of the ubiquitous commercial bar code. The immaculate Plexiglas transforms the digitally driven information into an elegant system of color, light, and relief.
In another portion of the exhibition, the observer may activate QR codes through smart phones or tablet devices, thus creating a digital path to recorded interviews with artists speaking about identity. But the consummate examiner, Salamé felt she could not look to this type of forward-thinking technology without also looking back to our technological past. She began to photograph various buildings and industrial areas as a metaphor for the relationship between the past and the present. Focusing on abandoned machinery to represent a city’s manufacturing bygone, the images epitomize each city’s unique architecture. Pointing to diverse states of deterioration, viewers are challenged to perceive the speed by which a landscape may be transformed through choice and/or neglect.
The exhibition also includes a new series of prints created with Goya Contemporary and Solo Impression, NY. Here, the choices of materials (grey felt worked over with digital embroidery characterizing iconic structures such as the Brooklyn Bridge) are married to the history of industrial advancement, and even nods to industrial artists such as Charles Sheeler.
Finally, Territories, a series of hand-cut and multi-layered paper drawings created on 600 gram Fabriano paper, rounds out the viewer’s journey through tactile, hand sewn and cut collaging which functions to ascertain specific pages referenced in Emmet Gowin’s book Changing The Earth. The play of line work in front of and behind the stratum of fluorescent paint hidden between layers generates a delicate reflective light source that gestures to the light created by the Plexiglas work, as well as the hand stitching of the felt works. Soledad explains that this new three-dimensional work materialized from a desire to return to “the hand.” Perhaps the subtlest in their quiet elegance, these drawing make bold references to contour mapping and landscape. Vacillating between the past and the present, Salamé ‘s art, much like her materials, tells a story of interconnect and layered dualities.
Salamé was born in Santiago, Chile and now resides in Baltimore, MD. She received her BA from Santiago College, Santiago, Chile, and her MA from the Graphic Arts Institute for Graphic Instruction, CONAC, Caracas, Venezuela. Noteworthy exhibitions were mounted at The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore MD; Museum of Fine Arts, Santiago, Chile; Katonah Museum of Art, Westchester, NY; The Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC; and the traveling exhibition “Latin American Women Artists, 1915-1995,” which appeared at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, Denver Museum of Art, Phoenix Museum of Art, Miami Art Museum, and National Museum of Women in The Arts, Washington, DC. Soledad Salamé’s work is represented in private and public collections throughout the world, including those of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC; The Baltimore Museum of Art, in Baltimore, MD; and the University of Essex, UK. Her work is included in myriad books and catalogues including: Contemporary Museum: 20 years, Irene Hoffman (2011); The St. James Guide to Hispanic Artists, Thomas Riggs (2002); Latin American Women Artists of the United States, Robert Henkes (1999); and Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century, Edward J. Sullivan (1996). Salamé is also the founder and director of Sol Print Studios where she teaches print workshops for all levels.