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Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal

Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal: Tanya Aguiñiga and Porfirio Gutiérrez in Conversation

July 21–November 10, 2024

Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal is a multi-site project offering an expanded understanding of the scientific and Indigenous origins of cochineal, a red dye developed by the Zapotec peoples. At the Fowler Museum, interdisciplinary fiber artists Tanya Aguiñiga and Porfirio Gutiérrez present an exhibition of new commissions and existing work, alongside Oaxacan textiles from the Fowler collection. This multivocal installation will center ancestral knowledge and technical experimentation, and also shine a light on issues of immigration and labor justice. A companion exhibition presented at MCA Santa Barbara features the work of Aguiñiga, Gutiérrez, and other contemporary artists, whose contributions will each include a “lab” component, where the language of western science meets traditional ecological knowledge.

First cultivated by the Zapotec peoples around 500 B.C., cochineal is derived from an insect that lives on the opuntia (prickly pear) cactus. Its chemical ingenuity, stability, and chromatic intensity changed the course of art around the world. Despite the global scale and impact of cochineal, its spiritual, medicinal, and technical origins within Indigenous Mexican communities remain little understood. Sangre de Nopal offers a case study in multi-generational innovation, acknowledging the scientific knowledge and cultural heritage embedded in the cultivation of cochineal

Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal is presented by the Fowler Museum at UCLA and organized in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara. The curatorial team includes Dalia Garcia, Program Director & Interim Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; Audrey Lopez, Director and Curator of Public Art, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy; John Connelly, Gallery Director, Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College. This exhibition is made possible with support from Getty through its PST ART: Art & Science Collide initiative. Additional funding is provided by the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Image: Artists Porfirio Gutiérrez and Tanya Aguiñiga hold their weavings in front of their faces on a hill near Guiterrez’ hometown in Teotítlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Photo Credit: Javier Lazo Gutiérrez.


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