Jennifer Garza-Cuen is one of the participating, faculty artists in a group exhibition, "The Artist is in the Building" at the Islander Gallery, at Corpus Christi University, in Texas. While living in Reno, Nevada, Garza-Cuen developed a body of work titled "Indelible" connected to the death, memories and artifacts of her mother.
Creating poetry, writing lyrics and photographing her mother's fragile stitched fabric handkerchiefs, Garza-Cuen attempts to make sense of her loss and grief, while memorializing her mother. Several of the handkerchiefs have been photographed and printed delicately on large swathes of silk, 40x40 inches, suspended by invisible threads, undulating gently as people pass by, wafting vanishing memories of mothers and grandmothers with their secret drawers full of tiny transparent handkerchiefs impossible to imagine using.
I am always interested to see whether collaborations strengthen or add to the work in a meaningful way, or whether they are just artifice, a device, riding on current art world trends, or could it even be using the strength of other people's practices to gain further note for the artist themself? In this instance I have to conclude that the collaborative works and responses are warranted, and Garza-Cuen's entire exhibit becomes a multilayered discourse on loss, rather than a solo mourning. The result is an ethereal, haunting, multidisciplinary installation of photography and written works, beside collaborative works, such as composit photographs by model and artist Roxana Alger Geffen, holding small dead birds in disarray, music scores by composer Dale Trumbore and poetry responses by Jana Sibley.
Garza-Cuen received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in the History of Art and Visual Culture, and has this year become an Assistant Professor of photography, Texas A & M University Corpus Christi, Texas, after spending the last few years in Reno, Nevada, teaching her extremely sought after academic courses in photography and photographic processes, at Truckee Meadows Community College.
Jennifer's approach to any form of teaching, creative process, critique or practice is always tangential, off the wall and never the expected. Her startling perception and perspectives are what make her work and vision unique and full of tangible atmosphere and emotion.
Her poetry reveals sensitive pain in memories, formed into words supported by images, for others to recognize and feel her fleeting moments, triggering floods of past recollections that relate to all of us.
21 October-27 November 2016
Jennifer Garza-Cuen will be speaking at University of Nevada, Reno, in the Knowledge Center on November 1st, from 5.30 - 6.30.
Exhibition review by Frances Melhop
This black home / this silver other, on the side / like the darker days to
come / Of sound, ocean / I sat beside him, looking into the screen as he pointed / shadows – can you see her? Can you see home / mother //
I was there / a child / another way of saying in some way unreal / as if walking away from a white dream / a dream sleeping inside / carrying the body of the woman I love //
The woman who now walks with two hearts beating / The man next to her, inside her, a sliver / to recognize this moment, outside of outside of the world / visible enough to depict my mother’s sliver end // A photograph in a box / a blue-eyed mother / a white corpse / the same as a child to us //
Poem by Jennifer Garza-Cuen