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Sam Fresquez
Xico Arte y Cultura, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Lynn Trimble


Sam Fresquez, "Nesting" (detail) 2018, Tyvek, 72 x 120". Courtesy of the artist

Continuing through October 13, 2018

A series of dichotomies present themselves in Sam Fresquez’ works: manmade/organic, familiar/new, patterns/randomness and artificial/real. Here, the artist uses a central tunnel-like sculpture, paired with text-based objects that include wooden cubes of laser-cut calligraphy and painted palm fronds to convey the ambiguities in human experiences of family and home. The centerpiece work, a hollow 10-foot by 6-foot arched structure reminiscent of work by contemporary sculptors Patrick Dougherty and John Grade, beckons us to consider what it means to occupy a particular space that is both comforting and unsettling.

Fresquez hand-cuts thousands of pieces from the saffron-colored structure using the paper-like Tyvek material made with artificial fibers. Each cut-out has the shape of a picis, an almond-like shape seen at the center when two circles partially overlap. It’s a shape often affiliated with the fish symbol prevalent in Christian iconography and the constellation Pisces, adding another layer to Fresquez’s inquiry into belonging. The cut-outs, more free-spirited than meticulous, give the form a nest-like appearance, prompting reflection on ways humans and animals differ in their approaches to creating and using their living quarters. The material left between them, forming a hybrid of circle and square, mirror the pattern on curtains in her grandmother’s home. For Fresquez, it’s a recurring image in the background of family photos.

Pieces in the show are strewn across the gallery floor, as if to seed a fertile soil, even as the young artist encounters familial and societal expectations about femininity and motherhood. They draw our eye towards a trio of wooden cubes, each bearing words from artist interviews with people with a multi-cultural background. Four palm fronds, each painted using white acrylic quoting excerpts of Emma Lazarus’ poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty. Fresquez layers biological, cultural and creative constructs of family and home, even as Americans wrestle with issues surrounding immigration and displacement due to natural disasters.


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