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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy photo Lina Puerta (Colombian-American), Chili Pepper Crop Picker, 2017

The 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville has a new exhibition on display exploring the evolution of work and industry in the 21st century. "Labor&Materials" opened Jan. 25 and examines technological innovation through the varied mediums of artists contemplating commerce and consumption, access to goods and jobs, and information and infrastructure. One of the exhibition's featured artists, Lina Puerta, is a Colombian-American sculptor whose creations center around the often invisible or overlooked Latinx workers who are paramount to the food system in the United States. Puerta took some time to answer a few questions for What's Up! ahead of her visit to Bentonville, where she will join 21c chief curator Alice Gray Stites and filmmaker Ava Lowery Feb. 8 for a discussion on the contributions and impact of the Latinx depicted in her works.

Q. Was there a particular piece of art that inspired your desire to create art?



WHEN — On display through November

WHERE — 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville

COST — Free

INFO — 286-6500,

FYI — Artist Lina Puerta, 21c chief curator Alice Gray Stites and filmmaker Ava Lowery will host a free discussion on the contributions and impact of the Latinx worker on the foodways of the American South at the museum at 7 p.m. Feb. 8.

A. I don't remember a particular piece, but while in college, I was inspired (and still am) by artists such as: Frida Kahlo, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Louise Nevelson, Marisol, Sheila Hicks, Olga de Amaral, Doris Salcedo, among others.

Q. How would you describe your art to an art viewer?

A. Mixed media art inspired by nature and the body; and the relationship between the two.

Q. What drew you to the materials -- fabrics, ribbons, beaded appliqués, fur, feathers, chains -- you use in your tapestries?

A. I am interested in materials that relate to the body and body adornment; and in concepts that have to do with femininity, sexuality and fashion.

Q. What is the deeper meaning or implication for you of using these man-made materials to depict the natural elements that appear in your work -- leaves, flowers, fruit and pollinators -- as well as the Latinx laborers also part of the field-to-table process?

A. I use these materials as a way of relating the natural and living cycle of crops to the body.

A reminder that we ARE nature and therefore are fragile, temporal and mortal -- and that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves.

In this series, the Latinx farm laborers are (to me) part of the natural plant cycle. Just as the pollinators have a role in helping the plant bear fruit, so do the Latinx farm laborers who cultivate and tend to each plant/crop. In modern societies, we have become removed from this process and disconnected from the land. The beautiful process that crops go through and the hard work required by the Latinx laborer, in order to have food on our tables, is hidden from the public when buying produce. Such disconnection allows abuse, negligence and injustices to occur, not only with the Latino laborers, but with nature itself.

Q. Is your art created with a desired result in mind?

A. I simply create work until I feel it is done. With the Latino Farm Worker Tapestries Series, it was important for me that the laborers were portrayed with dignity and respect.

-- Jocelyn Murphy

NAN What's Up on 02/04/2018

Print Headline: Five Minutes, Five Questions Artist Lina Puerta

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