WNMU Artist in Residence João Galera

2019-20 WNMU Artist in Residence João Galera (pictured) is using his year in Grant County to complete a project containing three main parts — the land, the people, and the conflicts or differences.

© Western New Mexico University

From Sao Paulo, Brazil, João Galera is the current WNMU Artist in Residence. “I am here for a year to do a project, exchange knowledge and go to the local art events,” he said.

João’s project contains three main parts—the land, the people, the conflicts or differences. “The idea is mainly to work with different groups of Silver City that live here but sometimes they don’t talk between each other: the hippies, miners, ranchers, the students. They are here but sometimes you don’t see the people together,” he says. “The main line is the memory.”

To depict the land, João is painting 100 watercolors of objects he finds in nature and will sew them together. “I call it the quilt of land,” he says. “I’m trying to get these small objects and things I’m seeing and finding here to try to describe what Silver City is for me. It’s my point of view.”

For the people component, João plans to hold clay workshops with many groups in the area, starting with the schools. “I will ask for each one to make an object that’s representative of them. We will put all together in one sculpture to form a person,” he says.

Just as T.S. Elliot used different voices in his poem that partially inspired this project, João will create 13 large drawings of abandoned buildings. “I think it’s important to hear different voices,” he says. “These ruins that have a lot of memory for everybody. There are a lot of different feelings about each of these places. Some say it’s awful. ‘No, it’s beautiful.’”

At the conclusion of his residency, João will showcase his project through an exhibit and lecture. In the meantime, he invites everyone to get involved. “Mainly, it’s memory and bringing together people,” he says.

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