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Saltillo: New Works by Ben Muñoz
March 25, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
“Normally, my work is about personal experiences and the American experience through my eyes. It’s not always this grander thing—sometimes it’s more of a personal story that is easily translated as relatable across the board. I do that by using imagery and composition that is relatable to everybody while telling a personal story.”
A sense of turbulent motion springing from deep power pervades Ben Muñoz’s art. His upcoming show at Hecho a Mano melds two bodies of work from the past two years, bridging the personal and the universal.
The first, which draws on his collections entitled Las Hermanas and La Familia, is rooted in reverence for heritage, identity, and the experience of the descendants of immigrants. Las Hermanas is a trio of chiaroscuro woodcuts, each named for one of his daughters: Daphne, Florence, and Jane. La Familia is a four-part series of woodcuts that layer images expressing Muñoz’s personal experience of his family’s past, present and future.
“It’s that narrative of how our family assimilated—this is the first generation to be born here. This is their children. This is the line where we lose our language. What do we let go of? What do we hold on to?”
The second body of work diverges from his usual, deeply personal subject matter. It was inspired by a creation account of the Mexica people, in which all life came from Chicomoztoc—“The Place of the Seven Caves.”
His interpretation of the story’s imagery is a collection of prints showing calavera skulls with cacti growing from the crown of each skull—a symbol of life burgeoning from the caves. For each of the seven small skulls in the series, Muñoz experimented with Chine-collé woodcut prints, which allowed him to bring texture and depth to the images. Two larger monoprints—each almost six feet tall—show calavera skulls crowned with a multicolored cluster of cacti, each skull representing the single large cave from which all life emerged in the Mexica account.
“It’s the origins of life,” Muñoz says. “Out of that one cave came all life in the region. I always thought that was really beautiful because they shared that creation story, that idea that we all came from one place.”
Regarding the show’s title the artist says, “My family were tile workers when they came to the US and imported and sold Saltillo tile. I grew up around it and also doing physical labor helping in family business. That’s where my worldview comes from. Since all of this work is created from my perspective and I draw a lot of identity and heritage from that. I think it’s a fitting name.”