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Lina Puerta: Migration, Nature, and the Feminine

Curated by Klaudia Ofwona Draber with associate curator Sofia Ramirez of KODA

Organized by KODA and Hunter East Harlem Gallery

October 13, 2021 - March 5, 2022

Lina Puerta: Migration, Nature, and the Feminine is a survey exhibition of the artist’s work spanning the last eighteen years and created mostly during her time as an East Harlem resident. The artworks in the exhibition showcase Puerta’s use of imagery rooted in her Colombian upbringing and Latinx experience. Examining the relationship between nature and the human-made, and engaging themes of xenophobia, hyper-consumerism, food justice, and ancestral knowledge, Puerta creates mixed-media sculptures, installations, collages, handmade-paper paintings and wall hangings by combining a wide range of materials: from artificial plants, paper pulp, to found personal and recycled objects. The use of body adornments such as sequins, fabric, lace, and jewelry reference the body, and conjure emotions of joy and celebration.

Puerta's sculptures contain anatomical and botanical elements. These delicate hybrids are rich compositions rendered in a complex layering of materials and techniques. Otherworldly landscapes, referencing the interior of the body, are contained in suitcases, and bell jars, or become their own ecosystems. Her artworks play out as simultaneously mysterious, spiritual, and magical. Vulvas, breasts, and uteri forms evoke psychological states grounded in pre-Columbian fertility deities, and are presented arrested of taboos or hypersexualization.

Puerta’s most recent works on paper and fabric emerge from her process of connecting to the knowledge of Indigenous peoples. The artworks are inspired by patterns created through weaving practices of Kamëntsá and Inga communities of Colombia related to food and cultivated nature passed down across generations of women. Puerta’s use of colonial traditions like quilting and embroidery pay tribute to the women who practiced this craft as an escape from social isolation and as a way to seek mutual aid. By integrating these two aspects of her Mestiza ancestry, Puerta seeks to uplift undervalued knowledge and recuperate alternative ways of living that propose a more sustainable and biodiverse future.

Puerta (born in NJ and raised in Colombia) lives and works in New York City and exhibiting her survey show at Hunter East Harlem Gallery—in the heart of El Barrio—is significant to Puerta as she resided in the community for over 15 years.

Lina Puerta: Migration, Nature, and the Feminine is curated by Klaudia Ofwona Draber with associate curator Sofia Ramirez. The exhibition is organized by KODA and Arden Sherman at Hunter East Harlem Gallery. Support for this exhibition is provided by KODA and Hunter College Department of Art and Art History and The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

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