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Artist Talk By Mauricio Cortes Ortega, Smelser Vallion Visiting Artist, Doel Reed Center for the Arts
During the Bosque Redondo internment years (1863-1868) a dramatic shift in Navajo weaving was seen. The availability of never before used yarns, European looms and the interjection of the Mexican sarape brought by Spanish settlers moving to Chimayo and the New Mexico area. Through this forced hybridization the Rio Grande Sarape was made and is now a rare visual representation of converging cultures, that of northern indigenous Mexicans, Navajo people and Spanish colonists. The moment of intersection between the woven fabrics serve as a point of departure for this talk. Striped visual elements in the artist’s works are presented as they correlate to the history of textiles in Mexico and the American Southwest, as well as issues of colonialism, technology, trade, forced labor and design. The native Nahuatl name for these sarapes: acocemalotic-tilmatli roughly translates to “rainbow mantle.”
Mauricio Cortes Ortega was born in 1990 northern Mexico and moved to the United States in 1999.He received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union in 2012 and his M.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University School of Art in 2016. Cortes was the recipient of the Schell Center for international Human Rights Travel fellowship, traveling with artist Laura Genes along the US-MX Border, exploring the intersection between art and artistic practices and international human rights. Mauricio was the recipient of the Jóvenes Creadores Mexican National Council for Culture and Arts painting fellowship (2013) and the Benjamin Menschel Travel Fellowship Award for “The Nancy Flowers Project”, a multimedia project that delivered photographs taken by anthropologist, Nancy Flowers in the 1980’s back to their subjects. His work has been exhibited at Mulherin New York; Silk Road Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut; Infinity Room, Los Angeles; and Greenhall Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. In 2015, a collaborative work with Laura Genes was exhibited as part of the 2015 Biennal de las Fronteras in Tamaulipas, Mexico. Mauricio Cortes currently lives and works in New York City.