Inside Out

Marela Zacarías

Open Studio

September 1 – October 14, 2020

Exhibition Period

October 16 – December 12, 2020

 

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In Inside Out, Brooklyn- and Mexico City-based artist Marela Zacarías returned to the origins of her creative practice: mural painting. She encased the MadArt Studio’s perimeter walls in monumental, floor-to-ceiling murals. In the center sat a wooden-framed pyramid inspired by the emblematic Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Xochicalco, a Meso-American archeological site close to Zacarías’ family home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Zacarías’ pyramid comprised wooden frames sheathed in wire mesh, leaving the foundation exposed and creating a shifting transparency on its surface which slowly revealed a suspended figurative object within its walls. Alluding to the temple’s past inhabitants and ceremonial rites, this central plaster sculpture was titled Cihuacoatl, after the mythological Aztec goddess known for providing women with strength during childbirth. The exhibition’s murals were directly influenced by the iconography of the relief carvings and architectural features of the actual temple. Constructed in 700 – 900 CE—after the disbanding and resettlement of many of the region’s indigenous empires—the Xochicalco temple served as a space for leaders to gather and make confluent decisions for their newly-unified civilization, and these overlapping cultural influences are apparent in its structural and artistic details.

Finding herself unexpectedly residing in her family’s home in Cuernavaca amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Zacarías turned inward to reflect on the societal and political unrest facing our present world. Amidst this contemplation, the temple rose as a symbol of regeneration and of a new structure, a new future, reconstructed by many people pulling together. Zacarías’ conceptual process is driven by the investigation of dehistoricized communities, and a commitment to the retelling of their stories in new, visual forms. As seen in Inside Out, these previously untold narratives are celebrated for their power to guide us in overcoming modern-day challenges.

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Photo by James Harnois