Letters From Home presents works by Diana Antohe, Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz, Ricardo Ruiz the Elder, and Max Guy, considering how personal and family mythologies are cultivated through acts of memory, tending and care. Each of the four artists adopts unique modes of myth-making and storytelling to convey how they move through landscapes of culture, ecology, and place. Each of the artists’ works has the intimacy of a letter from home -- in which “home” is not a physical location, but a feeling conjured through acts of recounting and transformation.
Diana Antohe’s multimedia work J.R. (Southfork Ranch) (2018) reflects upon her experience as a Romanian-born, American-raised artist inhabiting a space between two distinct cultural worlds. The work takes as its starting point the prime-time soap opera Dallas, one of the few American cultural exports accessible in Communist Romania during the 1980s. The audio of Antohe’s piece, in Romanian with English projected subtitles, recollects memories of visiting Southfork Ranch in Texas, where scenes from Dallas were filmed, intermingled with stories of women family members and impressions of the show’s impact in Romania. In J.R. (Southfork Ranch), Antohe presents a Romanian-American experience as a series of images refracted back and forth between contexts.
Father and son Ricardo Ruiz the Elder and Ricardo Vicente Jose Ruiz present Demonios y Curanderos, two companion suites of watercolor works that illuminate similar themes through each artist’s distinct symbolic language. Both artists draw in varied ways upon Mexican-American folklore and Indigenous oral traditions, crafting worlds that oscillate between natural and supernatural, psychic and material, plant and animal. In their complementary bodies of work, storytelling, ritual, and the dream-world function as key sites of both mutation and continuity, through which cultural and political heritage is reanimated.
Max Guy’s What’s Outside series (2016-present) emerges from a practice of personal, rather than collective, myth-making. The works derive from an ongoing practice of collecting leaves on meditative walks, scanning them, and cutting out their traced silhouettes using magazines and other ephemera from Guy’s studio. Accumulated in piles on the floor, the retraced leaves condense the time and space of the walk into a new thickness, commenting less on a specific place than the mental state that place confers. The What’s Outside works shown here, referred to as “Tulip Dancers,” experiment with mirroring and duality as they embody their own memories and reflections thereof.