Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

A passing of the torch and a mallet

Two new exhibitions unveiled at the Contemporary at Blue Star

To kick off the start of Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio, the Contemporary at Blue Star Gallery hosted an event on March 1, where they debuted two new exhibitions. 

In front of the steps of the gallery, the organizers started the evening with heartfelt speeches and an announcement that had the potential to shape the future of four local up-and-coming artists. The Contemporary announced their selection for who they would send to Germany to be a part of their Berlin Residency Program. In addition to the residency experience, this program will also help financially aid each artist during their journey.

The exuberance and excitement of the artists’ celebration carried on into the first of the two new exhibits named “Without a Trace.” In a small white room, walls were lined with mounted shelves presenting clay figurines, each with its own unique, organic shape and personality. Instructions on the walls guided the audience to select a figurine that spoke to them and had them place it on a pedestal located in the center of the room. Then, the audience was instructed to take that figurine and smash it with a mallet, returning the clay remains into a basin of water. All that the audience kept was a small keepsake that was once trapped in the clay figurine.

Michael Guerra Foerster, the mind behind the installation, wanted to explore ephemeral concepts or things that only exist for brief moments, and he additionally wanted to explore a pure relationship between art and the consumer without the capitalistic guardrails that normally encompass institutions of art. 

Foerster’s unique experience of being able to manipulate and keep the art filled the audience with an interesting combination of youthful enthusiasm and a sense of peace that follows after one returns a beloved connection to Earth. Getting to manipulate and play with the art was a new experience for many, and the playful nature of the exhibit made one feel like they were playing with a Buddhist monk’s rendition of a Kinder Egg. 

Although one could no longer smash things with a hammer, the second and larger exhibition, “Vernacular Systems,” proved to be just as interesting. Curated by Christopher Blay, this collection of art by San Antonio and Houston artists showcased the “human nature to connect to the world around us — from nature to family, to work and the day to day,” according to the Contemporary Art Month non-profit. Housed in this exhibit were pieces of a large variety of mediums, from cardboard sculptures to polaroids to immersive video projections. The works in this collection connected the audience with their humanity, allowing them to empathize with different perspectives of our world and our connection to society. One particularly interesting piece, “Háblame, Mija” by Jennifer Battaglia, was a short film that featured a mother anxiously running to pick up the phone. This installation immersed the viewer in a sense of protective anxiety felt by mothers and guardians universally. 

In addition to the fascinating art on display, a bonus of visiting these exhibitions during this particular event was that the curator and some of the artists themselves were in attendance. One such artist in attendance was Monique Garza Sullivan, the artist behind the piece “Polaroids.” This work is a collection of polaroid photos whose film had been manipulated with a unique process of chemical reactions. Talking with the artist, the viewers were able to get a unique and in-depth insight into how Sullivan was inspired by mycelium in the decomposition process — a process that will eventually reconnect everybody back to Earth. 

If you are interested in experiencing these exhibitions yourself, they will remain on display until June 9. You can learn more about the art and artists by visiting the Contemporary at Blue Star website. In addition to these exhibits, many events will be held around the city to celebrate Contemporary Art Month. You can find more information about those events by visiting the Contemporary Art Month website.

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