Early last year, young artists of color and longtime best friends Sealia Montalvo and Crisa Valadez decided to take their friendship to the next level with a creative partnership.
The International School of the Americas Graduates set out to showcase emerging artists through the accessible and DIY format of pop-up exhibitions. Although the germinating seed was firmly planted, one key thing was missing: a name.
“It was pretty funny actually, because we had our idea for months but just didn’t have a name,” recalls Valadez.
In search of something slightly obscure, earthy, and metaphysical, the natives of San Antonio exchanged words and ultimately chose a nickname for their fledgling business: Motherling.
“We were like, ‘Yeah, that makes sense,’” Montalvo said of the name. “Because we are definitely focused on women; we are definitely trying to support the self-identifying as female and non-binary individuals within our community to try to be as inclusive as possible. ”
This directive became very clear with Motherling’s first “Loveforms” pop-up. Unveiled last February at the Brick in the Blue Star Arts Complex, this group exhibition brought together the works of 20 women and artists who identify with the feminine through an open theme: love. Beyond showcasing local creations, Motherling’s debut showcased Montalvo’s hanging and installation abilities – skills she learned as a teenager participating in the MOSAIC Student Artist Program of Blue Star.
“I took advantage of this experience to [other] projects, and that definitely helps with the Motherling collective, ”said Montalvo, who has since briefed Valadez on the ins and outs of hooking up a show.
Last July, Motherling widened her scope by mixing a few male artists in “Text to Frame” – a “visual poetry show” held at the Rojo Gallery.
Both of these exhibitions caught the attention of rising curator Isabel Servantez, who was the Semmes Foundation intern at the McNay Art Museum from 2020-2021 and was recently appointed Curator of Exhibitions and Programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin. .
“After their ‘Text to Frame’ exhibition, Sealia and Crisa approached me to offer to prepare an exhibition with them,” Servantez explained. “I was immediately enthusiastic about this opportunity. For several years, I followed three collage artists: Zoe Carlson, Nancy Casanova and Anna Foran. Although their practices seemingly disparate in themes and techniques, I felt drawn to each of their bodies of work, approaching collage from different and unique perspectives and approaches. … I felt strongly that these three artists went well together.
To complete the trio of artists selected by Servantez, Montalvo and Valadez have chosen two collage artists based in San Antonio: Tink Castillo and Anette Cavazos. On display at the FL! GHT gallery until January 28, the resulting collaboration is “Garden of Reflection”, a non-narrative exhibition comprising analog and digital collages exploring “form, form, matter and movement” as well. than a myriad of intermediate themes.
“It was a pleasure to work with Sealia and Crisa,” added Servantez. “They are enthusiastic, creative and diligent in providing opportunities for artists and art professionals.”
The Motherling duo also have a gift that money or training can’t buy: synergy. On one of our visits with them to FL! GHT, we witnessed a pretty sweet moment. As they planned the placement of the artwork on the bare gallery walls, Valadez turned to Montalvo and said: “I feel like I couldn’t do that with any of my. other friends. ”
“I feel the same,” Montalvo replied.
These visual highlights of the show are five reasons to visit Motherling’s ‘Garden of Reflection’.
Zoe Carlson, Father Heaven
Incorporating acrylic paint, magazine clippings, and embroidery on muslin, Denver-based “artist, researcher, daughter, sister and nonprofit administrator”, Zoe Carlson’s latest body of work is inspired by Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags, Peruvian ofrendas and “indigenous communities doing the real work on the front lines of environmental justice.”
Tink Castillo, Blasphemy
Driven by surrealism, San Antonio-based Houston-born Tink Castillo experiments with layers and textures in hand-cut collages that encourage viewers to go beyond the obvious and “focus on hidden meanings.”
Nancy Casanova, Reflection 2: Flash Memories
Nancy Casanova, artist, collector, scavenger, and nomad from San Antonio, examines human behavior and habits in cut-and-paste collages made from “ephemeral papers from her travels, books, magazines, old drawings and paintings. ‘works of art that have been damaged and abandoned’.
Anette Cavazos, Growth
Guided by dreams, memory, ambiguity and composition, the collages of Anette Cavazos, a native of San Antonio, combine archival illustrations and clippings from magazines and books that she collects in thrift stores.
Anna Foran, Untitled (Party)
Toronto visual artist and writer Anna Foran layers newspaper clippings, paint and pencil on paper to evoke ghosts, voids and “the fullness of absence.”
To learn more about Motherling, follow the collective on Instagram @ motherling.sa.
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