Chrysalid – A Small But Interesting Exhibition

On Saturday we got out and about in beautiful weather and headed over to Museo Blanes to see a small but interesting exhibition by Uruguayan fibre artist Sylvia Umpierrez.   In translation, her general artist statement says of her inspiration from Nature:  Through my work I want to awaken new sensations about the beauty of nature, take another look at what is dry, what has no value for many, for me, it is the beginning of my fabrics”.

The curator’s exhibition statement reminds us how utilitarian and symbolic roles of woven cloth and basketry reach back far into the mists of human history.  Though undoubtedly descended from such practical intent as her Catalan ancestors’ hand crafted fishing baskets, the works in this exhibition are highly representative of Umpierrez’s interest in the used, dried vegetable materials that Nature has cast before her to select as raw materials for new woven forms.   Additionally, we learned that the particular vines and other plant forms the artist used here have healing and medicinal properties, giving additional symbolic connection to the woven fabrics with which we are surrounded from our moment of birth.  

The keynote piece of the show, this two piece composition suggested to me that the creature had left, leaving behind something of an afterbirth, which of course isn’t what actually happens when a metamorphosed chrysalid emerges from its cocoon.

Even without knowing the particular properties of these plants, it is clear from the empty containers or cocoons ‘vacated’ by metamorphosed creatures that they had already emerged from the dry dead materials to continue living in their newly hatched forms as moths or butterflies.

This was my favourite, so light and lyrical and of course the shadows it threw onto the wall are lovely.
All the pieces were suspended using barely noticeable nylon thread which gave wonderful sense of ethereal mystery to the collection including the several large dried philodendron leaves that hovered among the forms.
Some papier mache, perhaps applied to give the impression of mud and pointing to intimate contact with the earth.

This exhibition is open until May 28th, and I urge anyone within reach of this wonderful Montevideo museum to get along and see it. Museo Blanes is open Tuesday-Sunday, 12noon to 6pm, and entry is free. And it’s always worth strolling through the Figari collection there, followed by some time standing in awe in front of the vast Blanes painting of The Oath Of The Thirty-Three Orientals, too.


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