Latin American Artists in Residence Create Sculptural Ecosystems in New London

NEW LONDON — Two fragile ecosystems populated by imaginary animals and shifting polygonal shapes create a small-scale but monumental world in a sculptural new installation at the Expressiones Cultural Center at 84 Bank St., on view until April 30.

The collaborative show, called “Trailblazing,” is the culmination of artists Iliana Scheggia and Ramón Ostolaza’s 3-month residencies at the center, which promotes Latin American culture.

Artists in Residence Iliana Scheggia and Ramón Ostolaza, Expressiones Cultural Center, New London

The couple – from Lima, Peru – said they have been wondering about the structure and nature of the universe for the 12 years they have been together. In this show, they explore these questions, each using their own visual language.

Scheggia works with clay, creating geometric shapes – polyhedrons that seem to open and close, multiply and divide, fold in and out, stack and unstack as they go. that they evolve from a small form to larger and larger iterations that form fractal hierarchies and sequences.

“My work revolves around the construction of space and our relationship to it. I have always been attracted by the nature of the universe and its configuration; what is its origin; what is beyond the visible and how it works and what my role is within it,” Scheggia said.

Sculptural installation by Iliana Scheggia, artist in residence at the Expressiones Cultural Center, New London

She has been working in ceramics for six years, but did not have access to a kiln to fire the clay pieces she was creating in New London. But, she says, the ephemeral nature of unfired clay became part of her design for the work.

“The challenge is there’s no oven here, so I said what if I did this and it wouldn’t last? It’s fragile when you move it – it’ll break, it won’t last. Like everything in life, it decomposes, it will become dust.

Unlike Scheggia, Ostalaza creates organic animal-like shapes using a more durable material: epoxy. A former forestry engineer, he said he created an imaginary ecosystem – called the MicroMacro project – which is a metaphor for how ideas take shape and develop.

“Ecology and animals have always been part of my language and every creature is a kind of thought,” he said.

Sculptural installation by Ramón Ostolaza, artist in residence at the Expressiones Cultural Center, New London

Ostalaza’s “strider” – a three-toed, four-legged creature with a spike-covered trunk and tendrils growing from its back – towers over a smaller, six-legged, amphibian-like creature that crouches and moves among the shadows and spaces of Scheggia. pieces. Nearby, an ancient snail-like creature with overlapping scales appears to move slowly through the environment.

“You have big ideas, your ‘striders’ are your main ideas. The smaller, tiny creatures are the secondary ideas and they feed off the big one,” Ostalaza said. “It’s like in nature, you’ll have a big animal, like an elephant, and around the elephant you’ll have a lot of smaller animals living in that ecosystem.”

Scheggia and Ostalaza said their ecosystems are a metaphor for “the evolution of thought and the fragility of processes, as well as its sustainability over time.”

The work is, they said, “a reflection on the need to renew strategies and knowledge to avoid stagnation and extinction”.

Where: Expressiones Gallery, 84 Bank St., New London, CT

When: April 9-30, 2022, times vary – call 860-501-9278