DSI Gallery presents a groundbreaking exhibition of sculptures, watercolors and
embroideries by Leslie Jiménez
and Julianny Ariza. The exhibition will be on display
from September 13 to November 13, 2013.
dual exhibition is comprised of 12 works that range from sculptures and paintings
to installations and handicrafts such as embroidery. The artists’ multidisciplinary approach is best summarized
in the selection of the materials: fabric, thread, ink, graphite, acetate,
coloring pencil as well as plaster on canvas wood and plastic.
stimulating, fragile and imaginative, “Condition: My Place My longing / Condición: Mi
Lugar Mi Anhelo” brings together two artists from the Dominican Republic who are engaged in a
dialogue of sorts that confronts —without any hint of sentimentality— subject
matters rooted in both the historical and personal realms: oppression,
sensuality, violence, racial stereotypes, beauty, gender, longing, identity,
biculturalism among others. Overall, this is a kaleidoscopic experience that
incorporates different techniques and ways of seeing. In the email interview
that follows, Leslie Jiménez and Julianny Ariza discuss the creative process and the
relationship between language, migration, everyday life and art.
What kind of research did you do for this project?
Leslie Jiménez: Constantly I read stories that bring about notions of psychological
aspects of human behavior— for example, the weekend newspaper during the
weekdays— and use my own experiences as an immigrant to inform my work.
Ariza: From the start—and based on our interest to
link our work with migration issues that we face and since the Dominican Studies Institute at CUNY share these objectives—we were doing brainstorming and expressing situations and
experiences of ourselves and of others that we see around. We researched events and
everyday news that may affect and get involved in our daily
behavior and our emotions. These
were news from the United
States and the Dominican Republic, and other
countries in general too. We ran through this process, comparing similarities and
differences between the two countries and how
they determined human behavior.
Julianny Ariza [Photo courtesy of the artist]
How do you choose the materials?
Ariza: I use materials
such as textile, thread and embroidery. I hand sew and glue
materials because of the homemade and familiar feelings
that they recreate in me and connect me to the
family history of many of us. I also use toys and objects from our
childhood that we don’t often see these days due to the changes brought about by globalization and technology, but especially because of processes
of cultural mixing.
Jiménez: The materials I use come as an extension of my own curiosity
and creative process. Usually I have a variety of
materials in my studio and suddenly ideas pick them as the medium needed for
them to be born. I don’t always work with the same set of materials since each
idea may have a different requirement. I love the fact that I can have the
freedom to work in with all the materials I can get.
Leslie Jiménez [Photo courtesy of the artist]
What social, artistic, political, spiritual and personal
perspectives inform your work?
Jiménez: My work is informed by the social disparity between the
construction of the self-image and issues of ethnic liminality: The contrast
between the externally-imposed and the internally-embraced that has to do with
race and ethnic identity. I take my experiences lived both in the Dominican
Republic and in New York as a critical battlefield, here I question what I have
been raised to believe and challenge the truth in it to find a way to understand
this complicated subject.
Ariza: I explore the human being in her personal moment when expressing vulnerabilities and the social function of emotion. My work reaffirms that all social problems and all action are associated with an
emotional component: in the process, it recreates their idealizations
and weaknesses in oneiric contexts. And in this
case, pointing out
these contexts originating
as the consequences that occur when living either physically and / or emotionally in different places.
What is the role of bilingualism in your art?
Jiménez: Bilingualism? Love this word! The intentions of it in my work is to breach the community of
Spanish speakers with the English speaking population who often can’t reach the
message at the same pace for the exclusion of one or the other language in the
"The Last Desire of Carmencita" by Leslie Jiménez
I find that some words lose strength when translated from its
original language in the scenario of visual arts. It is almost like I need it
in Spanish and there’s no other way to convey the real sense of what I’m
willing to say. Through bilingualism I feel as if I’m unifying two separate
worlds, a situation I lived on my own flesh when I was not able to speak
Ariza: It is a key
factor that generates new challenges and reasons why, how and for
whom to create
Finally, how does the immigrant experience influence your work?
Jiménez: The experience as an immigrant influences my work hugely!
Everyday I have material to work with, being able to navigate a
land where I wasn’t born and find my place in it with struggle is definitely
the ground where it all starts when I look at myself and feel the need to make
art. It is not an easy task to deal with discrimination, isolation,
discouragement, and pay attention to the magical moments that enable you to
dream and little by little make things happen in this journey. I feel as if it
is my responsibility to communicate to other immigrants who are living similar
stories as mine; that work and heart might never be separated for the tears we
may drop. The fight should be won by those who work hard; those who believe
they are capable and who realize the world needs their contribution no matter
how small they may think it is compared to the barriers we face in the process.
"Unbreakable" by Julianny Ariza
Ariza: That experience has a lot of weight in what I
do. Since it is present in our daily lives, our behavior and concerns combined
consciously and unconsciously in my themes: The themes of family and home as a
starting point; the loss of family and cultural traditions, for example: when
we inherit our grandparents’ furniture when we get married or on a Sunday
afternoons when we wear the dresses that our mothers sewed for us. Behind these
practices is an emotional component that determines our daily behavior. When
you move from one place to another, others cultures and people, this either generates
changes or makes you more aware of your own identity. Among some of the themes
that motivate me to create these works are dwelling, longings and absences. So
far, the human component is my priority in my work.
CUNY DSI GALLERY
The CUNY Dominican
Studies Institute Gallery (CUNY DSI Gallery), housed in the multipurpose room
of the Institute's Archives and Library facility at The City College of New
York, is the only exhibit space in New York City devoted exclusively to works
of art by and about people of Dominican descent. The Gallery celebrates and
showcases artists who have a unique perspective on the Dominican experience.
The hours of operation
for the Dominican Archives, Library and Gallery during the Fall 2013 are as
3 - December 23)
9:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. - 8:30
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 12:00 p.m.- 5:00
Closed the following dates:
Monday, October 14 (Columbus Day)
28-Saturday November 30 (Thanksgiving)