Sarah Zapata: Speculative Monuments
August 7 – September 20
Closing Reception: September 20, 5 – 8 PM
Sarah Zapata’s weavings and textile-based sculptures have been described as monuments for alternate or future worlds or ruins from a past one. On view at Institute 193, for the first exhibition of her work in the South, Zapata is presenting an intimate series of watercolor studies made as references for her larger works. The drawings are one part of the artist’s research-steeped practice which routinely engages with the personal and collective histories tied to her intersecting identities as a queer, Peruvian-American raised in an Evangelical Christian household in Texas.
The works are presented at 193 in the context of a region divided over the appropriateness and continued display of the monuments and memorials dedicated to leaders and fallen soldiers of the Confederacy. Just two years ago, after advocacy lead by Take Back Cheapside, Lexington’s city council voted to relocate two such monuments dedicated to John C. Breckenridge and John Hunt Morgan, both Generals in the Confederate Army. Notably, the Lexington monuments, like many similar monuments elsewhere in the South, were built at the height of the Jim Crow Era, not immediately after the Civil War. Unlike most of the monuments, they were built in a state that never joined the Confederacy. Other symbols of the Confederacy, especially its flag, have been used as racist dog whistles, both in former Confederate states and in other parts of the country with no connection to the Confederacy whatsoever. Similarly, these monuments functioned (and many elsewhere continue to function) as sites of publicly sanctioned intimidation of brown and black people rather than acting in good faith as legitimate memorials for the dead. The organizations that built them, in the end, were able to continue advocating for the racial dynamics of a failed state under the guise of mourning and remembrance.
In her work, too, Zapata recognizes failure not as an end, but as a part of an ongoing process. The translation from two-dimensional drawings to three-dimensional sculptures and installations is rarely straightforward and sometimes unsuccessful. Colors change, and forms are reconfigured in response to the needs of a space, sometimes being abandoned altogether. The watercolor studies for future sculptures, some of which were eventually realized and exhibited, of course, have distinctly different goals than the Civil War monuments being discussed in the South today. Instead of reinforcing the positions of a group already in power, they envision an alternate present or possible future whose monuments pay homage to different communities, histories, and ways of being.
For press inquiries contact:
Paul Michael Brown
270 925 2311