Praxis is pleased to present A Diasporic State of Mind, a group exhibition by artists Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Melissa Misla, Simonette Quamina, Natalia Sánchez, Estefanía Velez Rodriguez, Maria Yolanda Liebana. The exhibition will be open from April 14 to May 21, 2022. Our hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm, at 501 W 20th Street, New York, NY, 10011.
In the 21st Century, as we collectively inch closer to globalization, the places we inhabit become a collage of reassembled memories, history, and various cultural heritages creating new perspectives and unique yet familiar subworlds. A Diasporic State of Mind at Praxis Gallery presents the works of six interdisciplinary Latinx and Caribbean artists, Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Estefanía Velez Rodriguez, Maria Yolanda Liebana, Melissa Misla, Natalia Sánchez, and Simonette Quamina. Their practices explore how the relationships between identity formation, migration patterns, and displacement reflect within domestic spaces. Through abstracted sculptures and paintings, collages, and printmaking, these bodies of works mutually address the discomfort of how marginalized communities are often obliged to relocate, usually because of economic means or in search of The American Dream. Circumstances such as these cause marginalized people to find themselves on new grounds formulating homes that are neither here nor there.
Both Melissa Misla and Carolina Aranibar-Fernández speak on themes of displacement and newfound realities through their works and artistic practices. While Aranibar-Fernández’s large-scale borderless cartography concentrates on extractivism and natural migration patterns among indigenous women in Bolivia, Melissa Misla’s series Apt 9D (2018-2019) discusses the ways gentrification impacts Nuyorican communities via the absence of the figure. Misla’s life-size mixed-media paintings draw viewers into a typical Nuyorican apartment, illustrating how the Puerto Rican diaspora has adapted to the urban landscape of New York by incorporating small elements from their cultural backgrounds.
Estefanía Velez Rodriguez takes on a similar approach with Reciprocal Time (2022), a painting of a window-like structure that depending on the viewer’s perspective, one can be outside looking in or inside looking out to a kaleidoscopic abstracted world of segments that resemble a tropical imaginary. Additionally, nothing compares to the creativity and resiliency of Latinx diasporic communities’ resourcefulness like Maria Yolanda Liebena’s conceptual sculptural Arches composed of high-and-low end art materials rearranged in a manner that applies new value and purpose.
Together these artists’ Latinx and Caribbean diasporic identities permeate throughout their works in fragmented pieces that inspire alternative modes of living. Small details such as the decorative concrete blocks commonly used on Caribbean homes like in Simonette Quamina monoprint collage, Pearl Snatcher (2016) allow spectators to envision the subworlds these artists are constructing for themselves in today’s globalized climate. While others like Natalia Sanchez employ such Caribbean details as a reminder of what was and could have been. Sanchez’s use of quotidian objects in an abandoned Puerto Rican landscape paints an eerie portrait of the harsh realities that compel marginalized communities to migrate.
A Diasporic State of Mind is a compilation of factors and experiences that help shape Latinx and Caribbean diasporic people. It addresses the sociopolitical aspects that inform their communities’ landscape and lend itself as a mirror to the various facets of its diaspora. It examines features that, whether “good or bad,” play a significant part in how Latinx and Caribbean groups perceive themselves or are perceived. Collectively the works provide a window to the interior of these individuals and their communities’ existence in a harmonious collection of diverse perspectives.
- Yelaine Rodriguez, April 1, 2022