Fabric and color unveiled in Yolanda Sánchez ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ at Deering
Yolanda Sánchez, “The Winds of Homecoming,” (detail) 2023, part of the exhibition of the artist’s work at Deering Estate, “All the Light We Cannot See” through Sunday, Nov. 12. (Photo courtesy of Ana María Carrano)
Three installations with semi-transparent fabric panels invite viewers to experience color and the presence of light.
An artist talk with Sánchez and curator Adriana Herrera is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22. The exhibition is on view through Sunday, Nov. 12.
Drawing from her background as a clinical psychologist, Sánchez underscores the impact of beauty on our lives. She believes that what we absorb, observe, and perceive plays a role in shaping our behavior and values.
She articulates her creative mission as a form of social engagement, a way to influence behavior positively by infusing the world with the transformative power of beauty. In her words, “I have this idea about how to affect behavior, and it’s the way that I’m socially engaged by creating work that brings beauty to the world.”
The exhibition’s name was inspired by Anthony Doerr’s book, “All the Light We Cannot See,” according to the artist, and, that much like our restricted perception of the electromagnetic spectrum, we can only observe a small portion of the environment, emphasizing the hidden elements in our world.
The main installation consists of 36 panels made of silk-organza fabric spanning 25 feet in length. The fabrics are so lightweight that they move as the viewer walks, creating an awareness of motion and the flow of air within the room, as if the artwork itself were breathing.
Colors multiply and transform with each subsequent layer, and as the viewer progresses, they perceive how colors intensify or fade depending on the dialogue with the other fabrics. According to Herrera, Sánchez’s artwork “through beauty unites the visible and the invisible.”
Although the forms in the composition of her textiles recall Piet Mondrian’s geometric paintings, Sánchez’s work is inspired by a Korean tradition, bojagi, a technique that geometrically joins fabric scraps, similar to the patchwork in American quilts, and is associated with good fortune. The curator points out that the artist transcends the two-dimensional form of traditional bojagi and expands it in this installation to paint in space.
The artist says she learned the technique from the Korean artist and teacher, Chunghie Lee. “My bojagi journey is one that has opened up many possibilities for me, both artistically and personally. Bojagi has taken me beyond my usual practice of painting. In fact, I consider that I am painting with fabric,” says Sanchez in an essay about the exhibition.
Sánchez, a Cuban-born artist who arrived in the United States as a refugee with her mother in 1960, initially pursued a career in clinical psychology, earning her Ph.D. at Florida State University. But after working as a psychologist, she made the decision to study visual arts at Florida International University and then went on to get an MFA in painting from Yale University School of Art.
Her previous works were heavily dedicated to abstract flower paintings. Herrera points out the thread of continuity between the earlier pieces and her current ones, saying that they both originate from the contemplation of the invisible aspects of nature.
“I believe there is a form of prayer that is the prayer of looking at the beauty of nature. In both her abstract flower paintings and these textile geometric works, there is a reference to nature and its beauty, which serves as the threshold to something transcendent,” says Herrera.
The installation offers a poetic abstraction of vibrant colors among its surroundings within the 450 acres and eight native ecosystems of the historic Deering Estate, encompassing 450 acres and eight native ecosystems, the colors within Sánchez’s pieces capturing the essence of South Florida’s tropical flora.
“In both my painting and in my textile work, I’m not literally translating what I see or my environment, it’s a metaphorical interpretation,” says Sánchez.
In this manner, her fabric panels vividly capture the “pantone” of tropical flora, showcasing colors like the bougainvillea pink-violet, hibiscus red, and the reflective gold of the sun.
“The Deering Estate offers so many different experiences. The movement of the water reflects what’s out there, and then there is the nature experience with the trees and the flowers,” says Sánchez.
The translucency of the fabrics, and their ability to transform with the shifting daylight, has the ephemeral quality of flowers. Herrera highlights how Sánchez’s work forges a connection with nature, “with a space of transcendence that is linked to the contemplation of beauty and a mode of reverence for what exists. And from that perspective, something sacred.”
For Sánchez, light holds profound spiritual significance that goes beyond any particular religious affiliation. She regards light as a transcendent force.
She also draws influence from the works of artists who have explored light, such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin, with a particular appreciation for Turrell’s spiritual approach.
Sánchez expresses her perspective, noting, “without going into specific religions or faiths, light could be God, light represents the higher power. Light for me is everything.”
WHAT: “Yolanda Sánchez: All the Light We Cannot See” curated by Adriana Herrera.
WHEN: 3 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22, artist talk with Yolanda Sánchez and curator Adriana Herrera. Through Nov. 12, 2023. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
COST: Attendance for the talk is free with RSVP here. Exhibition included in general admission to Deering Estate: $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $7 for children ages 4 to 14 years of age.
WHERE: Deering Estate, 16701 SW 72 Ave, Palmetto Bay
INFORMATION: 305-680-5219 or deeringestate.org
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