Puerto Rican artist Jorge González in a group exhibition at Whitney Museum of American Art

Jorge González, dyed cotton stools seen in the exhibition 359 dias en 19 meses (359 days in 19 months) at Embajada, Puerto Rico. Image courtesy of Embajada, Puerto Rico.

Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art investigates contemporary art practices that preserve and foreground Indigenous American notions of the built environment and natural world. The three words in the exhibition’s title are Quechua, the Indigenous language most spoken in the Americas. Each holds more than one meaning: pacha denotes universe, time, space, nature, or world; llaqta signifies place, country, community, or town; and wasichay means to build or to construct a house. Influenced by the richness of these concepts, the artworks explore the conceptual frameworks inherited from, and also still alive in, Indigenous groups in Mexico and South America that include the Quechua, Aymara, Maya, Aztec, and Taíno, among others.

The show features the work of seven emerging Latinx artists based in the United States and Puerto Rico: william cordova, Livia Corona Benjamín, Jorge González, Guadalupe Maravilla, Claudia Peña Salinas, Ronny Quevedo, and Clarissa Tossin. Their works investigate the complex relationship that indigenous and vernacular notions of construction, land, space, and cosmology have had in the history of modern and contemporary art and architecture in the Americas.

Jorge González’s work draws inspiration from Puerto Rican vernacular traditions, modernist architecture, and Taíno art and cultural expressions. For this exhibition, he has created a site-specific installation titled Ayacabo Guarocoel. The two main elements —the accordion-like roof and the the enea (cattail) walls—represent the meeting of two vernacular traditions on the island. Gonzalez also displays a number of Taíno objects and furniture pieces, newly made by the artist and local artisans in Puerto Rico. Each object present in his space will be made with locally sourced materials, using traditional weaving and construction methods. Bringing forth ideas of collective learning and the sharing of Indigenous craft methodology across generations, the installation also serves as a tribute to the families that have preserved and disseminated the use of materials, techniques, and designs native to the island. González invites the public to activate the space by engaging in readings and performers will lead formal readings throughout the duration of the exhibition. He will also lead a ceramics workshop.

This exhibition is organized by Marcela Guerrero, assistant curator, with Alana Hernandez, curatorial project assistant.

Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art will be on display through September 30, 2018 at The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street between Washington and West Streets, New York City.