The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain and SPAIN-USA Foundation have envisioned a cultural exchange residency between New Orleans, Louisiana and Las Palmas, Canary Islands to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences between creators from Spain and the United States through artist residencies and to explore themes related to artistic and cultural heritage from a creative and multidisciplinary perspective. These residencies address the general theme of heritage and conservation, focusing on the interrelationships between art and culture, the use (and re-uses) of heritage sites, new opportunities and public participation in the context of the city and our society.
The calls for artists were announced in April and artists were selected in early July. From New Orleans, artist Monique Verdin will travel to live and work at La Regenta, an art center in Las Palmas of the Canary Islands. From the Canary Islands, artist Julio Blancas will come to New Orleans to live and work at A Studio in the Woods. The two artists will overlap during their time in both regions and will come together to explore the shared cultural and environmental concerns of the Canary Islands and the Gulf Coast. The residencies will span October 22 – December 14, 2018 and honor New Orleans’ tricentennial year and Spanish roots.
About the Artists:
Julio Blancas was born in 1967 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. He studied art at Las Escuelas de Artes Plásticas in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and sculpture in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. He works mainly with pencil or graphite on paper, canvas, or satellite dishes and has participated in more than forty group exhibitions and seven solo exhibitions in both his home in Gran Canaria, Spain as well as other countries such as Belgium, Italy, and Germany.
Working almost exclusively with pencil and graphite, Blancas uses nature as a source of inspiration. His methodology is simple: to fill the artistic surface by repeating the essential graphic gesture – the line. The line made with graphite reflects light, creates subtle gradations, and molds forms that arise from the opacity of the black surface. Blancas works with the idea of memory, simulating natural spaces that serve as mental landscapes. These landscapes provide a strongly structural sense of the end result through the art’s intention and meaning.
Monique Verdin has been intimately documenting the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change in southeast Louisiana for decades. Her indigenous Houma relatives, their lifeways at the ends of the bayous, and the realities of restoration and adaptation in the heart of America’s Mississippi River Delta have been the primary focus of her work.
Monique is the subject/co-writer/co-producer of the award-winning documentary My Louisiana Love (2012). Her interdisciplinary work has been included in an assortment of environmentally inspired projects, including the multiplatform performance ecoexperience Cry You One (2012-2017) as well as the publication Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (2013). Monique is a member of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council and is director of The Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange; an experiential project engaged in building a community record through cultural happenings, strategic installations and as a digital archive to share stories, native seeds and local knowledge.
About A Studio in The Woods:
A Studio in the Woods, located in 7.66 forested acres on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, is dedicated to preserving the endangered bottomland hardwood forest and providing within it a peaceful retreat where visual, literary and performing artists can work uninterrupted. A program of Tulane University’s ByWater Institute, A Studio in the Woods focuses on interrelated areas of programming including artists’ residencies, forest restoration, and science-inspired art education for children and adults. One of a few live-in artists’ retreats in the Deep South, A Studio in the Woods fosters both environmental preservation and the creative work of all artists. For more information, visit: www.astudiointhewoods.org.
About La Regenta:
El Centro de Arte La Regenta, located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, is a public institution that was founded in 1987 and is dedicated to the exhibition, education, production and promotion of contemporary art, from a local, national and international perspective. Its programming includes exhibitions, workshops, seminars, talks, debates and didactic activities, with attention to all manifestations of contemporary culture, that are conceived for all types of audiences and public. Located in a former tobacco factory, el Centro de Arte La Regenta also houses a library and archive. For more information, visit: http://www.laregenta.org/
About the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain:
The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, through its official cultural program SPAIN arts & culture, aims to promote Spanish culture in the U.S. through fruitful cultural exchanges among institutions and artists, fostering positive bilateral relations between our two countries. Among its objectives, the program enhances shared knowledge on the cultural and creative industries and facilitates professional opportunities for artists, drawing on our common Hispanic heritage. We partner with American institutions to build institutional alliances and long-lasting transnational bridges through the arts in a broad sense. Our multidisciplinary approach covers a wide range of fields from design, to urban culture, culinary arts, music, cinema, literature, visual arts and performing arts. For more information, visit: https://www.spainculture.us/