This is the first West Coast exhibition by the U.S.-based Peruvian artist Kukuli Velarde, who was born in Cusco in 1962 and moved to the U.S. in 1988.
The Plunder Me, Baby ceramic sculptures evoke a childhood memory that has haunted Velarde, of hearing her 16-year-old nanny declare “I don’t speak Quechua” (the language of the Inca) in an attempt to hide her indigenous roots. To challenge this racism, Velarde creates personal and sometimes confrontational ceramic sculptures which are based on the traditional forms and surface decorations of Pre-Columbian ceramics but include the artist’s own image and reference her indigenous ancestry.
Sculptures from her Isichapuitu series will also be included in the exhibition. The Isichapuitu figures were inspired by a Mexican statue from the Rockefeller Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The vessel represents an obese male child with his arms up. The sculpture was made over two thousand years ago, and yet Velarde believes, it resembles her. Isichapuitu is an installation of several versions of the same figure. These figures serve as a metaphor of expectations and disappointments, memories and oblivion, and generosities and pettiness. Velarde’s work will be augmented with a selection of Pre-Columbian ceramic objects to illustrate her source material.
Kukuli Velarde has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Hunter College and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. Her work is included in the collections of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, TX; the Racine Art Museum, WI; the Fuller Craft Museum, MA; and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, WI. She is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, USA Knight Fellowship, PEW Fellowship, and Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance and is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.