"I WAS ORIGINALLY INSPIRED TO BECOME AN ARTIST BY THE "HOUSES OF WORSHIP" I ATTENDED AS A CHILD. THESE "CHURCHES" WERE TOTAL ENVIRONMENTS: ARCHITECTURE, LIGHTING, INCENSE, PAINTED AND SCULPTURED IMAGES ALL COMBINED TO CREATE A SENSE OF AWE IN THE VIEWER. MY WORKS ARE METAPHORS OF EXPERIENCE. I USE THE FEMALE FIGURE AS A SYMBOL OF NATURE AND POWER."

Fuente

 

Colombian-born Esperanza Cortés links the flourishing of her own artistic career with the birth of her daughter in an autobiographical, mixed-media work. The work includes a pregnant nude in low relief that floats on a blue/green encaustic ground, perhaps a reminder of the primordial sea from which we all evolved. Veins radiate out from her pubis, running down the figure to root her to the earth and upward to become the branches of a “tree of life” in full foliage. Beneath the figure is a vessel, like those intended to hold holy water, conferring a blessing and offering purification. Decorative tin leaves and glass beads embellish this altar-like composition. Defined in symbols of blood and water, this earth mother image is depicted as a powerful force of nature.

Susan Hoeltzel, Director
Lehman College Art Gallery


Dar a Luz

 


Sustenance

 

Untitled

Installations

 

Piso

 

 

The delicacy and subtlety of Cortés's work is especially apparent in Piso, consisting of a length of brocade extending from the wall down to and out onto the floor. The floor covering is qualified by a heap of clay flowers. Simultaneously formal and feminine, the piece entails a simple plane of fabric enhanced by multiple forms.

A Charmed Life

 

 

Detail, Charm Bracelet

 

Works like Charm Bracelet, a wall piece made of frescos, roses, charms, and glass beads, addresses with agonizingly blunt imagery one seemingly unresolvable pattern common to many abusive relationships. The four painted images: lacerated pelvic area, a bruised mouth, a blood-stained and bruised eye socket, and a nipple contusion, are each flanked by decorative charms. Clearly, the trinkets are given to make the hurt go away; unfortunately, they come from the same source as the pain. The chain—the bracelet minus its adornments—symbolizes the oppression in her life.

Dominick Lombardi
New Art Examiner

 

 

In the beginning of 1992 my mother spent 4 months in Colombia, where my family is from. She spent a great deal of time with my uncle and cousins who were bullfignters (Toreros). They would begin their day at 6 in the morning preparing the arena for the bullfight. At about 11:00 a.m. that was the time that they would spend eating, singing and playing guitars, celebrating the work they had just finished. The bullfight began at 12:30pm and ended around 4:30pm and then came the closing of the arena. While we were talking about our lives and our family in Colombia, she said it was the most exciting time of her life, having the life of an artist as she called it. She said she felt so completely alive while immersed in the life of the arena.

I grew up hearing the stories of the bull fight and all its ritual and it made me feel as if I was back in Colombia and not a continent away. Even thought my mother was never an artist she inspired me from the very beginnng of my life, Her influence and sense of arrangement has aways had an impact on my work . The sense of ritual from my mother and my family has a powerful connection to my installation work in particular. In the spring of 1992, she taught me to make the clay flowers which appear often in my work, especially in works like "A flor de piel" and "Throne."

There is a running theme in my artwork which revolves around the dichotomy of life and death. My family's involvement in the bullfighting tradition, and the personal (and very real) risk of injury and expiration that they took for that profession influenced my choices in materials, forms, and symbolism in my art. For example, the flower as a thing of beauty, delicacy and celebration is also a parting gift to the dead; the strewing of the flowers on a coffin symbolic of the magnitude of the loss. With the clay flowers, I also define a space. The high chair in Throne is both an elevation of a loved child and a threat; the chair is so high, that to fall from it might spell an ending…of innocence, of safety, or even death itself. My flowers being burned recall rituals of immolation of the dead and the legend of the phoenix…from every death springs hope of life, a cycle unbroken.

—Esperanza Cortés and Eric Matos

 

A flor de piel

 

A flor de piel describes the feeling one gets when they connect to something profound, like the excitement of falling in love through a poem or the experience of near death through a bullfight. As if in your own skin, the feeling develops and embraces you and connects you to someone else's experience.

I began work on Throne in fall of 1997 when my daughter was 14 years old.Childhood ended abruptly the previous summer. I became aware of the unprotected state that a young person encounters suddenly in the full bloom of the teen years; the constant state of physical, emotional and psychological change teenagers go through in such a short period of time. In this work I deposited all of my feelings. The chair had been my daughter's chair and had been recently discarded.

 

     Throne

 

 

                              

      Grave to the Unknown Woman

\                         

Altar to the Unknown Woman

 

 

During my travels to Europe, North, and North Africa, and Latin America, I noticed everywhere monuments to the
"Unknown Soldier." I thought that there must have been many women involved in the struggles around the world, yet not once did I ever encounter a monument to the courage of the heroines. I began working on models for a large sculpture in the summer of 1994. The sculpture was built during the spring of 1997 with a residency at Socrates Sculpture Park.

 

                         Untitled