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Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal

Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal: Tanya Aguiñiga & Porfirio Gutiérrez en Conversación/in Conversation

July 21, 2024–January 12, 2025

Opening reception Saturday, July 20 | RSVP

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 will be featured in an exhibition of new commissions and existing work, alongside Oaxacan textiles from the Fowler collection. This multivocal exhibition will center ancestral knowledge and technical experimentation, and also brings a special focus to issues of immigration and labor justice.

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.

PRESS RELEASE: Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal: Tanya Aguiñiga & Porfirio Gutiérrez en Conversación/in Conversation


Companion Exhibition

Opening Sunday, October 6 from 12–4 pm, Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Contemporary Art is also part of PST Art: Art & Science Collide and on view at Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara through January 12, 2025. Opening day details will be posted here.


Credits
Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal: Tanya Aguiñiga & Porfirio Gutiérrez en Conversación/in Conversation is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and developed in collaboration with the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The curatorial team includes John Connelly, gallery director, Atkinson Gallery at Santa Barbara City College; Dalia Garcia, program director and interim executive director, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara; and Audrey Lopez, director and curator of public art, Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. Curatorial support was provided by Silvia Forni, Shirley & Ralph Shapiro Director, Fowler Museum; and Amy Landau, director of education and interpretation, Fowler Museum. Tanya Aguiñiga and Porfirio Gutiérrez served as artist advisors to the project. Additional project support has been provided by Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano, director, Museo Textil de Oaxaca; and Frederick Janka, artist advocate, cultural producer, and president, Board of Trustees, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.

Sangre de Nopal/Blood of the Nopal is made possible through lead grants from Getty as part of the PST Art: Art & Science Collide initiative. Additional funding is provided by the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, and the Pasadena Art Alliance. With special thanks to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.

 

             

Image: Artists Porfirio Gutiérrez and Tanya Aguiñiga talk and weave together under a cardón cactus in a field near Gutiérrez’ hometown in Teotítlan del Valle, Oaxaca. Photo: Javier Lazo Gutiérrez

 

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