CLAUDIA ALVAREZ

I was born in Cadereyta in Nuevo Leon near Monterrey, Mexico. At the age of three, I legally immigrated with my family to the United States. My father’s job first took us to Chicago. The following year we moved to Lodi, California. Age 16 I moved to Sacramento where I lived until 2005 when I was awarded a residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska. I now live and work in New York City. I received my BA from the University of California, Davis and my MFA from California College of Arts in San Francisco, California. My work has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico and Japan.

Recent solo exhibitions include Acercate, Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City, Mexico, Girls with Guns, Scott White Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California, Falling, Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, Nebraska, Silencio de Agua, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Yucatan, Merida, Mexico, American Heroes, Blue Leaf Gallery, Dublin, Ireland, Cosas de un Niño, El Museo Latino, Omaha, Nebraska, History of Immigration, Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Nebraska. Selected group shows include New Ways of Seeing: Beyond Culture, Dorsky Gallery, New York, Better Half, Better Twelfth: Women Artists in the Collection, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE, Separation Anxiety, Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, California, Vida Breve, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Illinois, Migrantes: Claudia Alvarez, Jose Bedia, Ilya y Emilia Kabakov, Nina Menocal, Mexico City MX, Provisions, Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NY.

I have been awarded residencies and grants from organizations such as Art Matters Foundation, New York, New York, The McKnight Foundation, Artist in Residence, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, New York. Residencies include SASAMA, Shizuoka, Japan, SOMA, Mexico City, Mexico, Vytlacil Artist in Residence, Arts Student League of New York, New York, PV Art, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Gruber Jez Foundation, Cholul, Mexico, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, FUTUR, Rapperswil, Switzerland, China Century Entertainment Inc., Shanghai, China.

My work has appeared in New American Paintings, The Irish Times, Art Pulse, NY Arts Magazine, Review Magazine, Ceramic Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly and Confrontational Ceramics, Esteka Magazine. Collections include National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Yucatan, Merida, Mexico, Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Nebraska, El Museo Latino, Omaha, Nebraska, and Whitespace: The Mordes Collection West Palm Beach, Florida, Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearny, Nebraska.

I am currently a Visiting Assistant professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and an adjunct Instructor at New York University. Since 2009 I have taught art at the Rush Philanthropic Arts foundation working with kids in public schools around the five boroughs of New York.

PROJECT PROPOSAL: Huertas (Orchards)

On-site Live in Las Galerías from August 2 – November 5, 2017

My project proposal for El Museo Del Barrio is to create an installation of two-dimensional works inspired by the Mexican tradition of ex-voto or retablo paintings. The structure of text and image will be a point of departure for social commentary, autobiographical and broader issues. The profound sincerity boldness and clarity of retablo painting will provide a touchstone for my work. Titled, Huerta (Orchards). In contrast to their religious emphasis, my project will address social and ethical issues ranging from human rights and environmental concerns to the plight of the poor and injustices toward women and children. Huerta will comprise of watercolors, and drawings on large watercolor paper and fabric, a scale that will underscore the confrontational nature of my subject matter.

The Mexican tradition of retablo painting include devotional images that were principally made by untrained artists on small tin panels and often presented as gifts of gratitude to a church. Traditionally, the subjects of retablos are Catholic saints and their compositions typically incorporate narrative texts that recount miracles experienced by the individuals who commissioned—or created—them. The intimacy and simplicity of these pictures has always moved me, and my present goal is to create contemporary equivalents in large format as an installation.

In 2009, I saw a traveling exhibition at El Museo Latino in Omaha, Nebraska titled, Ex-Voto. It was one of the most moving painting exhibitions I have seen including a group of very small acrylic paintings on tin. Each one was unique, powerful, intimate, and living. The Spanish writing on the paintings transported my mother tongue into experiencing what was being witnessed. These small paintings have haunted me for many years. In 2014 I received a research grant from Art Matters to study pre-Columbian ceramics in Mexico City. It was a great opportunity to explore flea markets and other places to see them again.

Though each retablo presents a very personal story, such displays attest to the faith and resilience shared by their numerous donors. With Huerta (Orchards) I intend to create a similar mosaic of self-contained text-bearing images that together form a larger narrative, one that is primarily based on fragmented memories of my childhood, on tales I was told, and on my experiences as a Mexican immigrant.