Guadalupe Maravilla Transforms a School Bus into an Immersive Installation for Sound-Based Healing
Chrome plating, fringe made of humble kitchen cutlery, illuminated chandeliers, and symbolic sculptures of flora and fauna adorn a school bus parked at the ICA Watershed in the Boston Harbor Shipyard. The elaborately retrofitted vehicle is the largest project to-date by Guadalupe Maravilla and the latest addition to his Disease Thrower series.
Born out of the artist’s traumatic experience immigrating as an unaccompanied minor and suffering from colon cancer as an adult, the ongoing body of work evinces the healing power of sound and vibration. Titled “Mariposa Relámpago,” or lightning butterfly, the new work has had several lives before making its way to Boston: the bus was first used for transporting students in the U.S., then sent to the artist’s native El Salvador, and finally ended up in his studio where it underwent its current transformation.
Fastened to the vehicle’s body are several objects Maravilla found while retracing the 3,000-mile route he traveled as an eight-year-old to reunite with his parents, who had fled the country’s civil war. Included are references to Mayan cosmology and indigenous practices, spiritual emblems, and more contemporary imagery of disease and medicine, including a model of human anatomy resting atop the hood. Gongs and other tonal objects suspend from the sides, which Maravilla rings during his ritualistic sound baths. These sessions, which he’s hosted specifically for undocumented immigrants and those dealing with cancer, are known to reduce stress, anxiety, and tension that can worsen the pain of illness and injury.
Also in the exhibition at the Watershed are smaller paintings, scale models, and Disease Thrower sculptures made of mixed natural and synthetic materials that similarly reflect the artist’s exploration of displacement and recovery. Immersive and totemic, the works are part of the artist’s effort “to confront trauma in order to heal.”
Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is on view through September 4, with two sound baths scheduled for June 10 and August 13.
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Invisible Forces Vibrate and Quiver within Elaborately Constructed Fields of Magnets
Elaborately configured grids and systems capitalize on the immense power of neodymium magnets to visualize the invisible. A new collaborative video from Magnet Tricks and Magnetic Games demonstrates how shifting a single element can set an entire design in motion, prompting each component to shake and vibrate in response. A visually mesmerizing example of basic physics, the project is also a study of sound and its manipulable patterns, so make sure you turn your volume up. (via The Kids Should See This)
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Extravagant Sound Installations by Love Hultén Use Custom Synthesizers and Visualizers to Create Elaborate Audiovisual Mashups
Swedish audiovisual artist and woodworker Love Hultén is known for his extravagant and unconventional sound installations that fall at the intersection of music, art, and design. Whether an homage to Nintendo, Pacman, or Simone Giertz’s chattering mouths, the custom synthesizers are elaborate electronic instruments with broad audio capabilities and often, a unique MIDI visualizer that responds in real-time: play the keyboard of “NES-SY37,” for example, and a rendering evocative of a vintage video game will appear on a tiny LCD screen. In the case of “The Doodlestation,” a chord might prompt a cartoon-like figure to vomit an endless pastel rainbow.
Visually elegant and structurally complex, Hultén’s designs take about ten weeks to complete. He tells Colossal that he is currently working on a few commissions, which you can follow on YouTube and Instagram. (via Core77)
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Art Documentary Music
Through Totemic Sculptures and Sound Art, Guadalupe Maravilla Explores the Therapeutic Power of Indigenous Ritual
In 1984, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla left his family and joined a group of other children fleeing their homes in El Salvador. The Central American country was in the midst of a brutal civil war, a profoundly traumatic experience that’s left an indelible impact on the artist and one that guides his broad, multi-disciplinary practice to this day.
Now based in Brooklyn, Maravilla works across painting, sculpture, and sound-based performances all veiled with autobiography, whether informed by the Mayan architecture and stone totems that surrounded him as a child or his cancer diagnosis as a young adult. His pieces are predominately therapeutic and rooted in Indigenous ritual and mythology, recurring themes the team at Art21 explores in a new documentary.
“Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing” follows the artist as he prepares for his solo exhibition on view through September 6 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. Titled Planeta Abuelx, or Grandparent Planet—Maravilla expands on the often-used idea of Mother Nature to broaden its scope—the outdoor show is comprised of the artist’s trademark Disease Throwers, towering headdresses and shrines made of recycled aluminum. Allusions to Central American culture bolster the monumental works, with imprints of corn cobs, wooden toys, and other found objects planted throughout.
Covering the surrounding grass are chalky white markings, a signature component of the artist’s practice that delineate every space where he installs a piece. The abstract patterns evoke Tripa Chuca, one of Maravilla’s favorite childhood games that involves players drawing lines between corresponding numbers to create new intertwined motifs.
In Planeta Abuelx, Maravilla pairs his visual works with meditative performances that are based on the sound baths he used for pain management while undergoing chemotherapy. These healing therapies are designed to reduce anxiety and tension that often trigger stress-induced diseases. Using gongs and glass vessels, the palliative remedy has been the foundation of workshops the artist hosts for undocumented immigrants and others dealing with cancer that more deeply connect his totemic artworks to the viewers.
“Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” he says. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”
If you’re in New York, Maravilla is hosting a sound bath to mark the close of Planeta Abuelx on September 4, and you can see more of his multivalent projects on Instagram. For a larger archive of documentaries exploring the lives and work of today’s most impactful artists, like this visit to Wangechi Mutu’s Nairobi studio, check out Art21’s site.
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An Eclectic Group Show Features Sound Sculptures, Collages, and Toy Assemblages for the Annual BBA Artist Prize
A broad, varied collection of work from 20 emerging artists converges in a group exhibition for the sixth-annual BBA Artist Prize. Living in ten countries and working across mediums, this year’s finalists include Steve Parker’s touch-activated horn sculptures, Fiona White’s vivid collaged paintings, and June Lee’s figurative assemblages of toys and everyday objects. The winner of 2021’s award will be announced on June 25, with all works on view at Kühlhaus Berlin through June 30. Get a preview on the BBA site, and check out artist Ming Lu’s blue-and-white porcelain sculptures, which won the 2020 competition.
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A Pulsating Light Room of Multi-Layered Glass by Claudia Bueno to Premiere at Meow Wolf Las Vegas
Step into Claudia Bueno’s aquarium-style installation at Meow Wolf’s new space in Las Vegas and experience the slow, oscillating movements of natural life. “Pulse” is comprised of countless white line drawings that are meticulously intertwined and superimposed on 60 glass panels. When illuminated, they mimic scores of nautilus spirals, coral, vines, and botanics that sway and throb in glowing masses.
“This is what ‘Pulse’ is, a way of creating animated volumes using layers of drawings that build up. I have been refining this technique for the last six years, understanding how these forms can also have a moving quality when the light system is applied,” the Venezuela-born artist says, noting that the idea for the project grew out of a visit to Yellowstone National Park.
During the course of eight months, a team of women painstakingly painted the glass panels at Bueno’s Idaho studio. “The repetitive/meditative quality of the work lent itself to provide a very special healing space for us as we drew fine lines for hours and openly shared and supported each other,” she says. No matter the scale of the project, Bueno begins with a single dot that she duplicates, expands into lines, and eventually into intricately developed patterns, which she explains:
It seems like it doesn’t matter what size, materials, and tools I am working with, the same kinds of patterns manage to manifest themselves over and over, building on each other, gaining both complexity and simplicity at the same time… It has been an interesting brain challenge to visualize a stack of 2D drawings that then become 3D and move. It’s my own version of a non-digital, hand-drawn time-lapse or animation.
Although much of the installation’s work is complete, Bueno shares that she’s creating smaller sculptures, jewelry, and other works to coincide with the larger project. “Pulse” is set to premiere at Meow Wolf’s satirical sendup of consumerism, Omega Mart, which the Santa Fe-based arts group (previously) will soon open within Area 15 in Las Vegas. Until then, watch the video above by Adolfo Bueno and find more of Bueno’s light-based works on her site and Instagram. Video by Adolfo Bueno.
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