Alicia Marván (Mexico/USA) is an artist and designer dedicated to contemporary and experimental practices. Her interdisciplinary approach to art has led her to an ongoing investigation of space, form, movement, time and thought, often in relationship to the human body. She has participated in over 100 art exhibitions and projects, many of which have received support from cultural organizations and academic institutions in Mexico, USA, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, Brasil, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, The Netherlands and South Africa, such as the New York State Council for the Arts, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Breuninger Foundation, Goethe Institut, Stroom Den Haag, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The Tree Museum and Movement Research, among others. She has lectured and taught in the subjects of art, art history, social science, art and sustainability, cultural development, and interdisciplinary collaboration. She is the founder and director of the Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico (www.guapamacataro.org).
I believe art is a powerful tool for transcending human struggle.
I strive to create work that has the ability to inspire, uplift and provide stimulating platforms for exchange. It is through art that I integrate my experience of self, nature and society, and it is through art that I intervene in shaping our world. My creative efforts focus on communicating positive resolutions to both private and public issues. Past thematic explorations include mourning, colonization, border politics, migration, consumerism and body image. Current works are situated at the crossroads of art and science, particularly related to the nature/culture relationship. At the core of what I try to instigate is environmental consciousness and social integration.
My artistic practice emphasizes the sculptural and poetic inherent in the human body and its actions, intersecting media and processes in order to engage space, place and environment.
The majority of my work is site-based and rooted in social practice, motivated by a desire to immerse myself in diverse cultures and create art that is relevant to its specific context. Invested in the dialogue between art and life, as well as the interaction between art/space/viewer, my art often appears in unconventional spaces such as urban, industrial and natural settings. Two site-specific performances created in 2013 clearly reflect that: Beacon and Vita Mina portrayed the ghost of femininity in the capitalist pursuit, with the female body wrapped in luscious fabric, moving slowly through industrial ruins – the eminent grain elevators in Buffalo, NY; and the eerie Dos Estrellas gold and silver mine in Mexico, respectively.
Sustainability is important to my practice, so I often work with local “excess” materials. Two interactive installation works commissioned in 2012 by artist residencies in Ontario, Canada, were particularly crafted this way: Family Portrait, a collection of five life-sized sculptural forms designed to frame, reflect, surround or shelter the human body, was constructed with native wood discards, clay and wire, and installed amidst a meadow for six months. The changing of the seasons shifted the nature of the sculptures. A Seed, Inside a Grave, Inside a Heart, Inside a Dress, Inside a Shelter, Inside Water, was a “live” garment and installation constructed with landscaping fabric, water-soluble fabric, soil, and milkweed seeds from abundant plants growing on the grounds of The Tree Museum. After an initial performance, the work was also left outdoors, to “grow” for a whole year.
With a heightened awareness of human behaviour and the interconnectedness between living and non-living matter, I create art that can be experienced, touched, eaten, worn or inhabited.
In doing so, I am interested in triggering sensorial and neurological reactions in the observer/participant, tapping into memory, sensuality, the subconscious and the imaginary. My 2012 edible installation titled Alegría incorporated history and nourishment through a visual-poetic synthesis of literature from the Spanish conquest in Mexico. Extracting symbology about gold and amaranth (two goods that suffered from colonization), the project drew physical and conceptual parallels between the two materials. Edible sculptures made of amaranth and honey were shaped inside wooden molds originally used to fabricate machinery at Dos Estrellas, the leading producer of gold in the early 20th century, one that caused great environmental pollution and social exploitation. Inside the sculptures were ‘fortune cookie’ printed excerpts from J.M.G Le Clézio’s text “The Mexican Dream, or The Interrupted Thought of Amerindian Civilisations”, which gave insight into the historical past of the materials.