“In the 1980s, eight-year-old Guadalupe Maravilla fled the violence of El Salvador’s civil war and made a perilous, unaccompanied journey through Central America to the United States, where he reunited with undocumented family members. Nearly two decades later, while preparing for his M.F.A. thesis exhibition at Hunter College in New York City, he learned that he had stage-three cancer and began a grueling course of treatments.
To combat residual pain from the treatment, he was introduced to many types of ancient healing practices including a form of sound-as-medicine, which employs the vibrations and frequencies of gongs to release toxins in the body. Following his recovery, Maravilla devoted his artistic practice—which includes sculptures, drawings, paintings, choreography, sound, and performance—to healing. In his work, the artist engages particularly with the cancer and the undocumented communities of which he is a part, and whose collective trauma has given rise to a great need for care.” — Brooklyn Museum
“Tierra Blanca Joven addresses displacement of my people and our ancestors from the same land across several different points in history; the civil war, gang violence and government corruption, cataclysmic natural disasters, and the trade of cultural artifacts have all exiled Salvadoran and Maya peoples from present-day El Salvador,” says Maravilla. “The exhibition brings together representations of past, present, and future into one room—where the latest sculpture from my Disease Thrower series will meet ancient terracotta healers from the Museum’s collection, for example—as a reflection on intergenerational communal healing. Together, they share our history of displacement, while creating new visual narratives for the entangled genealogies of other border crossing communities.”
Installation views of Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven at Brooklyn Museum. Photos by Corrado Serra.
“This is an important moment of recognition for Maravilla, the first contemporary Central American artist to present a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. His practice speaks eloquently to the urgent need for healing felt by individuals and communities as they seek to recover a sense of physical and psychological equilibrium resulting from the trauma of a global pandemic, political upheaval, and the effects of climate change,” says Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.
Guadalupe Maravilla: Tierra Blanca Joven is organized by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, as part of Mindscapes, Wellcome’s international cultural program about mental health.