This exhibition presents the work of Dominican artist Julio Valdez, framing his printmaking practice as the primary axis of a multilayered production process. In 1994, Valdez arrived in New York City to study at the legendary Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, an applied experience that changed the direction of his artistic career. Today he practices printmaking in tandem with drawing, painting, and mixed-media techniques. This layering process augments the richness of the resulting work. His craftsmanship walks hand-in-hand with an ongoing personal search for spirituality, creativity, a deeper cognition of his Afro-Caribbean heritage, and a sense of place.
This exhibition maps Valdez’s choices of media as particular routes through which he engages with his surroundings with greater clarity, constructing identity along the way. Just as his environment is made up of people of a range of races and backgrounds, he executes his work through a variety of techniques and media, lending itself...to a more enriched understanding of his community through the work that it inspires. In Valdez’s art practice printmaking in its many disciplines allows him a deep exploration of the media and a malleable way to explore his own personal territories.
One recurring presence in his work is water. As an infinite abstraction of circumstance that connects his native Dominican Republic with his present-day home in the United States, water is a subject through which he challenges the notion of a Caribbean ideal, addressing issues of race, migration, and inequality. Through this lens, Mapping the Layers provides us with an opportunity to address key OAS issues such as race, inclusion, displacement, and diversity. This exhibition is aligned with OAS resolution 1093, which mandates the OAS member states to mark the Inter-American Week of Afro-Descendants “with activities that foster greater awareness and respect for the diversity of the heritage and culture of people of African descent.” Valdez’s work highlights the dichotomy present in Caribbean waters, as stunning scenery that has also facilitated the traversal of colonizing empires, resulting in slavery, imperialism, and mass tourism, prolonging the suffering and isolation of many of its inhabitants.
This mid-career exhibition allows the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas to once again engage with Valdez, following his exhibition The Island and the Continent at the former AMA gallery in the OAS Main Building in 2003, and multiple showings of his silk aquatint and monotype print The Grey Echo (2002), then accessioned into the OAS art collection. We are reminded through this work that the true richness of the Caribbean is not only the grand flora and fauna, but the spiritual energy and heartbeat determined by its extensive history of migratory confluence and cultural syncretism.
Entrada actualizada el el 03 may de 2022
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