Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen

Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen

Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington

View of Cecilia Vicuña, Arco arrayán, from the "Precarios" series, 1966–present. Found-object sculpture. Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans. Photo: Alex Marks.

April 17, 2019
Cecilia Vicuña
About to Happen
April 27–September 15, 2019
Performance & conversation: April 27, 2–4pm, with Cecilia Vicuña
Henry Art Gallery
15th Ave NE & NE 41st St
98195 Seattle WA
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Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen, the first major United States solo exhibition of the influential Chilean-born artist, traces Vicuña’s career-long commitment to exploring discarded and displaced materials, peoples, and landscapes in a time of global climate change.

Working within the overlapping discourses of conceptual art, land art, poetry, and feminist art practices, Vicuña (Chile, born 1948) has long refused categorical distinctions, operating fluidly between concept and craft, text and textile. The exhibition includes sculpture, installation, drawing, video, and text-based work from Vicuña’s practice since the late 1960s, weaving together the artist’s many artistic disciplines as well as communities with shared relationships to the land and sea. Reframing dematerialization as both a formal consequence of 1960s conceptualism and radical climate change, the exhibition examines a process that shapes public memory and responsibility.

Included in the exhibition is a large selection of Vicuña’s precario sculptures produced over the last four decades that feature found objects in lyrical juxtaposition, as well as a recent, monumental structure created out of scavenged materials from the ever-diminishing Louisiana coast. Also on view will be the installation Burnt Quipu (2018), in which lengths of dyed wool hang floor to ceiling connecting earth and sky in commemoration of recent forest fires in the greater West Coast region. Burnt Quipu is part of Vicuña’s longstanding artistic exploration of the ancient Andean writing tradition of “talking knots,” a sophisticated communication system repressed during colonization.

Cecilia Vicuña has lived between her native country of Chile and the United States since 1980. A poet, visual artist, and filmmaker, Vicuña is the author of more than twenty books, and exhibits and performs internationally. She is also the cofounder of oysi.org, a site for oral culture and poetries of the world.

Related programs include a performance lecture on April 16 at the University of Washington Bothell, a public opening on April 26 at the Henry Art Gallery, as well as a performance and conversation with the artist and exhibition co-curators Andrea Andersson and Julia Bryan-Wilson on April 27, also held at the Henry Art Gallery.  

Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen is organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (CAC), and co-curated by Andrea Andersson, The Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the CAC, and Julia Bryan-Wilson, Doris and Clarence Malo Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, University of California, Berkeley. The presentation at the Henry is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Associate Curator. Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Walker Family Foundation. This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and by a gift from Virginia and Bagley Wright. Media sponsorship is provided by KUOW.

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Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington
April 17, 2019

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