Upcoming exhibition: September 20 – October 18, 2018
"The Nicaragua Sketchbooks"
Ingrid Mayrhofer and Dámarys Sepúlveda
Opening reception: Thursday Sept 20, 5pm – 8pm
In my recent drawings and mixed media work, I am exploring the depth of my memories, the ambivalence of belonging to two worlds in which detachment and attachment are constantly competing. Images of my mother’s land, a farm that was her inheritance, link me directly to my roots. By capturing those images, I feel that I can magically make my heritage appear, grasping the colours and now empty rooms of the family home. It is as if the act of imprinting the objects onto paper will counteract my separation from what was once my home - the land and the family. Immigration is a process of detachment and re-attachment. As we struggle to belong to our new country we push our past to the background. In the process of becoming settled, we look back and re-attach ourselves to our memories, idealizing our past.
While my current drawings capture images of more tender memories, the reality of the past I left behind is still vivid in all the prints I created upon my arrival in Canada. In those years (1988-1990) I represented the war that tore my country apart, the pain, sadness and loss. When placed side by side with my current romanticized views of the country I left, the contrast is overwhelming. I detached myself from the painful memories and visualize only the beauty that still exists in my motherland.
Dámarys Sepúlveda (born in Masatepe, Nicaragua) is a painter, printmaker and educator based in Vancouver, BC. She studied Visual Arts at ENAP, the Nicaraguan Fine Arts Academy in Managua, graduating with a Visual Art Diploma. Dámarys was artist-in-residence at L’arc Children Art Expression School, in Barcelona, Spain, and at the printmaking studio at York University, Toronto Ontario. Her paintings and prints have been exhibited in Nicaragua, Barcelona, Toronto, Vancouver, Mexico, as well as the Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre and the McMaster Museum of Art in Hamilton.
As part of my MA field research in the mid eighties, I went to Nicaragua intending to interview artists about the role of art and culture in the process of social change during the Sandinista revolution. The three months I had allocated for the task stretched into a bit more than two years. I learned Spanish, taught experimental drawing at the National Art School and gave workshops at popular cultural centres in remote areas. I visited archeological sites and learned about community art practice by tagging along with artists and cultural workers. I also learned to wait. We waited for transportation, waited for rations, waited for art supplies, rain, and people. While waiting, I filled a few sketchbooks and shot endless rolls of black and white film.
Many of my sketches transformed into etchings back home in the printmaking studio at York University. I titled my thesis exhibition “Si no fuera por la Guerra” (if it weren’t for the war), something many Nicaraguans would sigh in light of the constant threat of counter revolutionary attacks, the economic blockade and mercenaries courtesy of the US throughout the eighties. Following my recent visit, 25 years after the fall of the Sandinista government, I re-purposed most of my old prints, and created a series of lithographs of empty coffee cups. The war may be over, but the struggle for social and economic justice continues in Nicaragua.
Ingrid Mayrhofer (BFA, MA, York University Toronto) is a practicing visual artist, community art practitioner, arts educator and curator. She has exhibited in Canada and abroad, taught studio courses and workshops, developed educational arts activities and community art projects, and initiated a number of international exchanges with artists in Mexico, Cuba, Serbia and Chile. Upcoming exhibitions include her installation “After Krieghoff” at ART/TECH@STEAM (Saint Thomas, ON, Feb 23/24) and as a solo exhibition at the Orillia Museum of Art and History (2019).