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The Digital Embroidery of Ri Anderson: Blood Of My Blood

By Valerie Mejer

Seen from a distance, the photograph of Ri Anderson entitled “Orbit” resembles a part of outer space, yet as we get closer we realize that we are looking at teeth. Upon learning more details about the craft of this work, we find that what we believed were stars are the baby teeth of her daughters. Thus the idea that everything is made of the same substance is a common thread. The work that will be exhibited starting January 20 in the Museum of the City of Querétaro uses intimate family biography in abstract symbolism, Renaissance-based scenarios, and Victorian parlor games.

Art Exhibit
“Sangre de mi Sangre”
By Ri Anderson
Open Fri–Sun, Jan 20–Mar 5, 11am–7pm
Opening reception: Fri, Jan 20, 8pm
Museo de la Ciudad de Querétaro
Guerrero 27 Norte
Centro Histórico, Querétaro

One mythology is inserted into another: the history of the human family with its myths is inserted into the natural universal mythology. Ri Anderson has two daughters, Lola and Lucy, who have played different roles in her photographs. It is as if the collection called “Sangre de mi Sangre” was given the opportunity to imagine her family as part of a myth, and the myth of creation is given a biographical connotation. As in the best poetry, each element ends up having multiple meanings: the umbilical cord in “Voyage to Mexico” is also the cord of the circus, something in which the photographer’s family became involved when they moved to San Miguel de Allende.

This body of work finds its inspiration in the history of the painting (like work of Cranach the Elder), as if the artist recognized the painters whose works she has chosen to recreate as ancestors of her daughters. Everything has a whimsical character, and this is clarified by the artist explaining that “Families in the Victorian era had a game of riddles where they dressed and acted to recreate a painting, a myth, or a religious scene. I picked this parlor game as part of my way of creating portraits of my children.” In this way the origin, the moment of creating a photograph, has its first impulse in the recreation of a game, and in its most direct form corresponds to the portraits where Anderson’s daughters appear as the Guadalupe Virgin, or as a queen.

The rigorous technique of Ri Anderson not only includes the creation of well-balanced compositions and color that connect you with the substance of a painting, but also the minute development of a system Anderson calls “digital embroidery.” This technical achievement has allowed her to work with her daughters’ hair to create works with strong Catholic symbolism. “Lily,” “Crown,” and “Dove” are based on fine hair weaving, as if that which was said to be a shared substance of the Father (an essential theological notion to Catholicism) was therefore a shared substance of the human in its most intimate, physical version¾the hair of her daughter Lola. Similarly, the meticulous play of the artist and her offspring in “Sacred Heart,” which is constituted by hundreds of images, in intimate repetition, of Lucy being born, reveals an essential reading of religion and returns it to its etymology re-ligare, “to rejoin.”

 

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