Triptych of Pereira's mud self-portraits
Photo by Melissa Zuniga

GYRE, A Spiral of Artwork

By Melissa Zuniga 

Eugenia Vargas Pereira is an artist who has fallen in love with feminist theory, the natural environment, and photography. “I found myself living in exciting times, not only for American women but for women all over the world, as well as for society as a whole,” Pereira said, an artist featured at The Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum.

 

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Our campus art museum kicks the semester off with exhibiting “GYRE,” a series of eight, one-week, one-work exhibitions by eight individual artists. The upcoming artists include John Baldessari starting February 18 and Phung Huynh on February 25. Not only are exhibits shown, but the museum hosts weekly talks about the artwork. The next talk is on February 25 by Phung Huynh on resistance and representation.

 The definition of gyre given by dictionary.com is a spiral or vortex. Similar to its definition of a gyre, each work surrounds one another to share the importance of art. In the exhibition’s press release, the director Paul Baker Prindle says this exhibit is “a stripped-down, focused presentation of works of art offers the chance to get back to basics and rediscover what we love about art in the first place.” It embraces the notion that art is the source, material, and inspiration for what the museum co-creates as a community according to the exhibit’s description. These eight exhibitions allow the museum to give visitors a chance to rediscover the reason and love for art. 

 

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Entering the third week of the semester, they began the exhibition with the art of Eugenia Vargas Pereira’s Body Art: Self Portrait. In her exhibit, she uses her body as a way of expression to share her experiences and identity. Body Art: Self Portrait is portrayed as a photo story to share feminist performances in the 1980s. The main focus of the exhibit is the three portraits of Pereira covered in mud.  “The use of mud proposes the body as an extension of the earth, life, food, and learning,” Pereira said. “It provides everything that we need to live.”

In the middle of the room are five velvety pink stools for visitors to sit on and reflect. 

On the opposite wall of the piece sits an interactive eight-word feedback wall that allows visitors to share their thoughts or feelings using a green circle sticker.

 Pereira is an artist born in Chillan, Chile. She is inspired by feminist theory, gender issues, and the natural environment to use as a base for her art. For her, the 1970s was the epicenter of the feminist movement, motivating her to be in control of her body and use it in her art.

“The use of my body in this piece and most of my work is to challenge my own perceptions of identity, awareness, and to question stereotypes and old paradigms in my own terms,” Pereira said.

 

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The chief curator of the Museum of Latin American Art, Gabriela Urtiaga, invited everyone to join a discussion of Pereira’s piece last Friday. She talked about the artwork and the artist with such awe and inspiration. 

“Eugenia is a nomad spirit. She loved her work and at the same time loved to connect with people’s different ideas through her artwork. She took the experience of her life and translated in her artwork,” Urtiaga said.

Although this one-work exhibit is small, it shares so much more meaning. It’s simple but wonderful. The museum will exhibit an artist’s work each week from February 4 until March 28. Each week-long exhibition will be shown Tuesday through Saturday.