LES Arts & Culture Open House: Artists Alliance Inc

Artists Alliance Inc | 88 Essex Street no 21 | Sat Oct 21, 1pm-3pm

Join a curatorial tour of Geografia(s) del Jiquilite al Añil. Curator Natalia Viera will guide visitors through this solo exhibition featuring new work by La Residencia artist Leila Mattina Gregory. Featuring video, textiles, and photography, Gregory shares her research on the cultivation and material uses of añil (indigo) in Puerto Rico, and its connections to the Caribbean and Latin America. The exhibition tour will begin with a brief welcome from Artists Alliance’s Direct, Jodi Waynberg, and introduction to the gallery program. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Abrons Arts Center.

Geografia(s) del Jiquilite al Añil is a project/exhibition by Leila Mattina and curated by Natalia Viera Salgado that seeks to have a conversation about artisanal practices forgotten or erased from our Caribbean-Puerto Rican imaginary as a consequence of modernity, extractivism and development.

The exhibition seeks to approach and understand the confluences, dialogue between, and symbiosis specifically to the practice and production of Añil (Indigo). In addition to the works presented in the exhibition and the documentation and history that traces this practice on the archipelago, a publication will be available to gallery visitors that serves as a “reader” for the project. The publication includes contributions from Steve Maldonado Silvestrini, Puerto Rican botanist, and plant taxonomist focused on the insular Caribbean. Silvestrini provides an introductory essay on the plant that contextualizes indigo historically and provides a more personal approach to Mattina’s work with Trama. 

The second part of the publication, written by curator Natalia Viera Salgado, addresses themes including territory, water, and material. Viera Salgado focuses on artistic and environmental practices in Puerto Rico that are conceptually connected and in dialogue with Mattina’s practice. Some of these projects are initiatives by Rosaura Rodríguez, Steve Maldonado, Karla Claudio, Amara Abdal Figueroa, Alice Chéveres, Barrioization by Carlo Andres & Ruben Rolando, and Caribbean yet to Come by Naldo Bagué. 

The publication concludes with a will include a poem / narrative text by poet and collaborator Amanda Herández.

Leila Mattina Gregory is a Puerto Rican artist/farmer based in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. She is co-founder of Trama, a farm space focused primarily on natural dyes and fibers. The farm is a place for research and development of different practices to grow or source natural raw materials for arts and culture. Trama also provides a space for continued education and access to a variety of raw materials to artists and the community. Thus stimulating, preserving, and activating the Puerto Rican textile culture for new generations. Her artwork focuses on recognizing the implications and importance of our material culture as a globalized community against the backdrop of the disappearance of ancestral knowledge throughout the world. Leila’s work has been exhibited at venues including Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (PR), Muestra Nacional de Puerto Rico (PR), FAD: Feria de Arte y Diseño (PR) and Bakehouse Art Complex (Miami) among others. She has a BFA degree in Painting from Escuela de las Artes Plasticas (2014) Since 2017 her work has become intertwined with agriculture and has continued learning from different experiences by visiting different indigenous communities in Guatemala, Perú and México.

Natalia Viera Salgado is a Puerto Rican curator and curatorial consultant based in New York City. She is also the founder of :Pública Espacio Cultural, an independent art space in Alto del Cabro, Santurce Puerto Rico. Her art historical research focuses on contemporary art in relation to decolonial practices, architecture, social and environmental justice, and new media with a keen interest in hybrid and interdisciplinary projects. She has worked at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, El Museo de Barrio, Art in General, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and Americas Society. Viera holds a MA in Curatorial Practice from the School of Visual Arts and is currently the Associate Curator at the National Academy of Design and curatorial Resident at the Abrons Arts Center.

Exhibition and Publication Contributors:

Amanda Hernández (San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1990) is a poet, editor, and co-director of La Impresora, a publishing workshop specializing in risograph printing. She studied Literature and Cultural Management at the University of Puerto Rico. She has independently published «Entre tanto Amarillo» (2016) and «Estrategias atómicas» (2018). In 2019, she edited «Memoriza: poemas para aprenderse de memoria» (Memoriza: Poems to Learn by Heart), a memory game as well as an anthology of contemporary Puerto Rican poetry. «La distancia es un lugar» (2020) Hernández ‘s most recent poetry collection, was published by La Impresora as part of the Trabajo de Poesía series. In 2021 she was named a Letras Boricuas fellow, an award highlighting the work of Puerto Rican writers from the island and the diaspora. Her most recent poetry project was published by the independent Puerto Rican press Editorial Pulpo; a bilingual re-issue of «Entre tanto Amarillo» (Yellow Struck, 2023).

Steve Maldonado Silvestrini (San Juan, 1995) is a self-taught botanist and plant taxonomist, artist and designer, from and based in Puerto Rico. Although his academic background is in architecture and design he currently works on several projects that intersect the practices of art and science. He has ongoing collaborative projects with several environmentally focused agencies, organizations, grassroots movements, environmental activists and self organized communities. He has published in Acta Científica, Forgotten Lands, and the River Rail; and exhibited his artistic oeuvre at Hidrante (Santurce, PR), Bronx Art Space (NYC), TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (Tenerife, Spain), and Casa Manatuabón (Manatí, PR).

Wheelchair Accessible | Elevator Available | Seating Available | Gender Neutral Restrooms Available | Quiet Sensory-Friendly Space Available