“Como Agua de Mayo” — Lena Bartula at Galería 6 in Pozos
By Nick Hamblen
Returning to creating art after a year-and-a-half break, Lena Bartula opens her new show, “Como Agua de Mayo,” at Galería 6 on Saturday, March 2.
“Como Agua de Mayo”
Sat, Mar 2, 1-5pm
By Lena Bartula
Jardín Principal 6
Mineral de Pozos, Gto.
I sat down with the artist for a conversation about what this break meant to her, what effect it has had on her work and process and what we can expect to see in this show.
Nick Hamblen: I know you recently took a break from creating art to focus on the Las Mariposas project. Were you actually able to not create art during this period?
Lena Bartula: It was originally supposed to be a one-year sabbatical from artmaking, but turned into a year and a half. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, due to the fact that I was engaged in and passionate about the project — about trying to see if I could make it work. Honestly, I had never done anything like a social enterprise, nor did I have experience in wholesale/retail, in working with and for a team, much less in a language that I’m wasn’t so proficient in.
NH: How, if at all, did the break change your perspective and approach to your work. Were there any great or subtle revelations that came from the time off?
LB: One thing that happened is that I fell more deeply in love with textiles and sewing because of all the time spent with the Mariposas women. The transformation from paint to every kind of materials had been nagging at me for some time, but it hadn’t really made its physical presence known to me in such an intimate way. I was reminded of my mother, grandmother, all the women who came before me, I had watched them sew and appliqué and embroider and I felt a vibration from them that sustained me, yet took me by surprise.
NH: What was your inspiration for the title “Como Agua de Mayo” for this show?
LB: Visiting Barcelona last year, I passed a boutique with the name Como Agua de Mayo etched into their glass door. I was instantly reminded of how much, in the center of Mexico, we all long for rain in May. I thought, ‘what a great title for an exhibition.’ When I returned to San Miguel, I Googled the phrase, which turned out to be a dicho that means, “to await with eager anticipation.” I decided that it fit with how I felt about returning to making, living and breathing art. I love the theme of water and many of the works in this show refer to it. “Huipíl for the Rainbow Goddess” has many references, only one of which is water. When we see a rainbow we whip out our cameras as if we may never see one again. As an LGBT symbol, its history is long and colorful. It symbolizes also the hippie peace movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s. All of these ideas boil down to one idea: hope.
Another work in the show, called “Thirst,” was inspired by the work of El Anatsui, an artist from Ghana who uses trash, like bottle caps, candy and gum wrappers to create monumental works of extraordinary beauty. My huipil-shaped wall hanging, of bottle caps from beer and soft drinks, is a reminder that these kinds of liquids cannot quench our thirst, and not just the thirst in our bodies. It’s a symbol of how many of us live our lives, eating and drinking and taking and collecting, and still we’re never satisfied.