To Carry Every Name But Your Own
10 September - 22 October 2022, Eleanor Harwood Gallery, SF
Installation View, Photo Credit: Shaun Roberts Photography
Eleanor Harwood Gallery is pleased to present Kira Dominguez Hultgren’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
To Carry Every Name but Your Own is a show woven from wool, silk, sisal, and Kevlar, in pieces of fluff and knots of grief. This show considers the question: What is a woman's body asked to carry?
Dominguez Hultgren grounds this show in the archive of documentation that surrounds Julia “Luz” Jiménez (1897-1965), a Nahua-Mexican artist, model, Nahuatl-language educator, storyteller, and weaver. Much of this documentation consists of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs created by members of the Mexican Modernist school. Artists in the movement included Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, Fernando Leal, and Tina Modotti.
Jiménez has been called the most painted woman in Mexico. People may not realize that they recognize her from Diego Rivera’s work. In Rivera’s paintings she was depicted holding calla lilies, weaving, or rolling out dough. Her figure was used to depict a quintessential Mexican woman. Art historian John Charlot’s son explains that, for his father, Jiménez was “the woman he saw in all women of Mexico” (Sylvia Orozco, “Luz Jiménez in My World”).
Weaving, holding jars and baskets, and caring for her daughter became the visuals that the artists around Jiménez created and, to an unknown extent, Jiménez curated. She is the woman who carries the nation in her hands, strapped to her back, inside her womb.
And while this show tries to acknowledge the ways Jiménez used the platform these artists gave her – to tell and publish her own stories about the Mexican Revolution, her hometown of Milpa Alta, Nahua culture and identity, and how she worked with ethnographers to translate Náhuatl – this show is also about all that Jiménez as a symbol, as a person, is still asked and made to carry.
Perhaps this tension – using the basket she’s holding and the belt she’s weaving as code-switching devices – is what draws Dominguez Hultgren to Jiménez. In her own weavings, Dominguez Hultgren uses materials spun from the dust hiding in the corners, the hairballs in the shower, the clothes from her grandmothers’ closets, and rope from her favorite climbing gyms. She builds looms that become the scaffolding to hold up the stories that one generation had to forget and another generation had to remember; multi-plied generations weaving into one another.
For more images and information, please see Eleanor Harwood Gallery's online viewing room
Installation Views "To Carry Every Name But Your Own," Eleanor Harwood Gallery. Photo Credit: Shaun Roberts Photography
Kira Dominguez Hultgren: Luz Jiménez
March 17 - April 23, 2022, Heroes Gallery, NYC
Installation View, Image courtesy of Heroes Gallery
Heroes Gallery is pleased to present works by contemporary artist Kira Dominguez Hultgren in conversation with the history of Nahua-Mexican artist, model, Nahuatl-language educator, storyteller and weaver Julia “Luz” Jiménez (1897-1965). By engaging with documentation and artwork about Jiménez’s life and the influence she had on the Mexican Modernist School, Dominguez Hultgren weaves an accumulation of cultural narratives and intertwined identities. How is weaving used to authenticate identity both in Jiménez’s life and in Dominguez Hultgren’s?
Self-described Chicanx, Indian and Hollywood Hawaiian, Dominguez Hultgren sees her ancestry mirrored in her weaving; an embodiment and performance of strange combinations. She weaves in the tension between performing and preserving cultural identity and finding one’s self within the romanticized ideal of the indigenous woman at her loom.
Dominguez Hultgren states that “in (my) weavings nothing gets blurred; rather the vertical and horizontal materials move in opposite directions, each strand holding its own in-between warp and weft. To weave with competing, unequal materials is to reflect a lived experience of colonialism supported by unequal histories where some stories go unheard, unseen, while others seemingly become the whole story.” Weaving becomes a metaphor in which the intertwining of material represents different truths, personas and perceptions.
What is seen and unseen interlace to create identity. To perform or preserve an identity is not a choice between falsifying and truth-telling, but a strategy to make sense of one’s story in a larger web of non-neutral tensions and histories.
Luz Jiménez lived this tension in her time, using the platforms given to her, using her audience’s perceptions of her, to tie her story and her people to the larger history of the Mexican Revolution and modern art. For members of the Mexican Modernist school such as Diego Rivera, Jean Charlot, Fernando Leal and Tina Modotti, she became a symbol of idealized Mexican identity and the perfect artist-model for their work. Jean Charlot ‘s son and art historian John Charlot explains that for his father, Jiménez was “the woman he saw in all women of Mexico” (Sylvia Orozco, “Luz Jiménez in My World,” 149). Jiménez used this platform to talk about Nahua identity and culture, translate Náhuatl with ethnographers, tell and publish stories of her hometown Milpa Alta before and after the revolution. In other words, Jiménez wasn’t only Mexican; she was also Nahua. She moved though, worked in, and knew the language of many worlds.
For more information about Luz Jiménez, please visit Heroes Gallery's website. Heroes Gallery would like to acknowledge Jiménez’s grandson, Jesús Villanueva Hernández, who works to gather a family archive and dedicates himself to his grandmother’s legacy.
Reviewed by Will Heinrich, New York Times, April 15, 2022: "No single knot or stretcher bar stands out more than any other, but they don’t quite blend together, either. Instead, the impression made, say, by “Colita de Rana” is less like a singular picture than like a complex spiritual machine."
Installation Views courtesy of Heroes Gallery
May , 2021 - August 14, 2021, NADA House Governors Island, NYC
Eleanor Harwood Gallery at NADA House on Governors Island opens a solo presentation by Kira Dominguez Hultgren.
From Dutch windmills to fans that replace the air in the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel every ninety seconds, Governors Island evinces the histories of revolving (pun intended) technologies and people groups. In "Make Room", artist Kira Dominguez Hultgren will explore through three large-scale sculptural weavings and a cacophony of woven materials, how technical and social revolutions both displace and assimilate that which, and those who, came before. Is it a circular narrative, a traceable line, or is it the uncanny present absence of something more, someone else that both situates and dislodges the maker and viewer in the exhibition space?
Reviewed by Roberta Smith, New York Times, May 6, 2021: "Textiles speak loudest here. Kira Dominguez Hultgren (Eleanor Harwood Gallery) has nearly overwhelmed one room with riveting textiles. The monumental No Dogs Allowed, a fan-shaped structure of cord and thread nominates this artist as the heir to Sheila Hicks."
Make Room, Installation Views
New Art Dealers Alliance
NADA House 2021
June 16, 2021, 4pm
Artist Talk with Kira Dominguez Hultgren
I was India: Embroidering Exoticism
March 4, 2020 - September 12, 2021, San Jose Museum of Quilt and Textile
San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles (SJMQT) is pleased to announce a new exhibition opening on March 4, 2020: I was India: Embroidering Exoticism, a solo exhibition by Kira Dominguez Hultgren.
Bay Area-based artist Kira Dominguez Hultgren explores what it takes to make an Indian. Her work incorporates cultural and familial materials, as she opens up her grandmother’s cedar chest to reveal two Punjabi phulkaris embroidered by her auntie Dalip Kaur around 1925. Phulkaris, or saloos as her family calls them, are commonly seen as head-coverings and shawls that typify the material cultural practices of pre-partition Punjab. In this exhibition, they become the process or treasure map by which themes of colonial and contemporary exoticism, handwork, and the spectacle are surveyed. Through woven sculpture and installation, Dominguez Hultgren invites visitors to step with her into phulkari practice as a transgressive process that challenges both personal identity and global histories.
We are excited to share this exhibition, already hailed as one of KQED’s “Six Bay Area Art Shows to See in 2020,” with our visitors this March.