This show considers the question: What is a woman's body asked to carry?
Eleanor Harwood Gallery is pleased to present Kira Dominguez Hultgren’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
To Carry Every Name but Your Own is a show woven from wool, silk, sisal, and Kevlar, in pieces of fluff and knots of grief. This show considers the question: What is a woman's body asked to carry?
Dominguez Hultgren grounds this show in the archive of documentation that surrounds Julia “Luz” Jiménez (1897-1965), a Nahua-Mexican artist, model, Nahuatl-language educator, storyteller, and weaver. Much of this documentation consists of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs created by members of the Mexican Modernist school. Artists in the movement included Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, Fernando Leal, and Tina Modotti.
Jiménez has been called the most painted woman in Mexico. For a U.S. audience, she may be most recognized in Diego Rivera’s work. In Rivera’s paintings she is depicted holding calla lilies, weaving, and grinding corn. Her figure was used to hold out indigeneity as Mexican identity and ideal, and as such she was visualized as a quintessential Mexican woman. Art historian John Charlot’s son explains that, for his father, Jiménez was “the woman he saw in all women of Mexico” (Sylvia Orozco, “Luz Jiménez in My World”).
Weaving, holding jars and baskets, and caring for her daughter became the visuals that the artists around Jiménez created and, to an unknown extent, Jiménez curated. She is the woman who carries the nation in her hands, strapped to her back, inside her womb.
And while this show tries to acknowledge the ways Jiménez used the platform these artists gave her – to tell and publish her own stories about the Mexican Revolution, her hometown of Milpa Alta, Nahua culture and identity, and how she worked with ethnographers to translate Náhuatl – this show is also about all that Jiménez as a symbol, as a person, is still asked and made to carry.
Perhaps this tension – using the basket she’s holding and the belt she’s weaving as code-switching devices – is what draws Dominguez Hultgren to Jiménez. In her own weavings, Dominguez Hultgren uses materials spun from the dust hiding in the corners, the hairballs in the shower, the clothes from her grandmothers’ closets, and rope from her favorite climbing gyms. She builds looms that become the scaffolding to hold up the stories that one generation had to forget and another generation had to remember; multi-plied generations weaving into one another.
The timing of this show is particularly poignant for Dominguez Hultgren as she also weaves in response to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Using colors from the calla lily bouquet that she carried during her wedding in 2002, the patterns of serape blankets she grew up with, the titles of the artworks for which Jiménez modeled, and sisal to recall Abakanowicz’s Abakans, Dominguez Hultgren lines the insides of her loom, To Carry Every Name but Your Own (also the title of the show), with sari silk and bullet-proof Kevlar.