Guest blog post by Paloma Mayorga
PrintAustin 2023 came and went, but not without leaving quite the impression on the Austin art scene. One of the most notable bodies of work this year was by Austin-based Venezuelan artist Enrique Figueredo. Figueredo, Assistant Professor of Practice in Print at the University of Texas at Austin, was selected to be part of PrintAustin’s 5×5 exhibition presented at Link&Pin from January 19 – February 11 earlier this year.
Figueredo has exhibited extensively in New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, and even abroad in Seoul, and is well known for his woodcut prints and unconventional use of the wooden matrices for outdoor public installations. His works investigate the visual history of ancient civilizations, the colonization of the Americas, and mythology to deconstruct present-day themes of economy, religion, immigration, and power.
The 5×5 exhibition is the first time Figueredo has exhibited his work in Austin and I was instantly captivated by an eloquent array of line work that construct familiar scenes of churches, missions, and impressions of rubbings begging to be deciphered.
Figueredo’s woodcut prints are part of a larger series titled, Pasó por aquí, or “passed by here,” the words that begin various sentences carved into the sandstone at El Morro National Monument in New Mexico by Spanish conquistadores. In this series, Figueredo depicts moody portraits of New Mexico’s historic missions along with vignettes of reconstructed rubbings of inscriptions that serve as some of the earliest evidence of Spanish presence in the area dating back to 1605. The artist further includes rubbings of elaborate tunnel systems created by Bark Beetles on tree trunks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain hiking trails. These particular beetles are responsible for the loss of millions of trees in the American Southwest every year; their marks symbolic of the complex relationship between the missions and the indigenous land they exist on.
“Treating the Spanish churches and missions as a form of mark making on the land, I am able to juxtapose the three individual entities and suggest the similarity of their character. Visually they become the same language: materially, as hand carved surfaces, and conceptually, as detrimental forces,” Figueredo wrote in a Q&A with Hecho a Mano for his solo exhibition, Pasó por aquí in the summer of 2022.
Figueredo cleverly uses his own mark making to build the textures of the missions and surrounding landscapes as a way to reflect on his own migratory trajectory and that of his ancestors. Having immigrated to the US from his native Caracas, Venezuela when he was only 6 years old, the artist’s urge to explore documented histories and mindfully carve out his own are akin and follow a tradition of intentional storytelling shared by the Latino street artists that inspired his early passion for art.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
PrintAustin’s 5X5 is one of the organization’s annual juried shows presented during the month-long PrintAustin festival. Started in 2021 as an online exhibit, five artists are selected based on a cohesive body of work made up of five print-based works. In 2023, PrintAustin added a new dynamic to the open call and had two jurors pulling from identical submissions, creating two separate exhibitions–one hosted by Link&Pin during PrintAustin, and the other to be presented at form & concept during the inaugural sister festival, Print Santa Fe in April 2023.
This year’s 5×5 exhibition in Austin was juried by Holly Borham, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, and curated by Annalise Gratovich, Texas printmaker and PrintAustin Board of Director Member.
PrintAustin partners with Miranda Metcalf and Reinaldo Zambrano of Hello, Print Friend and Jamal Barber of Studio Noize Podcast to conduct interviews with each of the selected artists to dive deeper into their artistic practice and inspiration behind their works.
If you enjoy the PrintAustin blog or any of the podcast interviews, please consider making a donation to PrintAustin and help continue our artist-led efforts to share our love of printmaking!
Featured Image: Installation view of Enrique Figueredo’s work at Link&Pin for PrintAustin’s 2023 5×5 exhibition. Photo by Scott David Gordon.