WORTHY OF BELIEF: THE MESTIZO ART OF CARLOS ZAPATA
October 20th – November 20th, by appointment
Lee Open Studios
10 – 6pm Saturday and Sunday
November 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th
In Worthy of Belief: the Mestizo Art of Carlos Zapata, fetish and icon are interchangeable. Folk and tribal art meet Christian iconography to express spiritual and political realities, as Columbian sculptor, Carlos Zapata, draws on the traditions of his mestizo heritage (Spanish and Native American) and Afro-Columbian culture. ‘Worthy of belief’ is the criteria used by Catholic bishops to determine true visions from false ones, but in South America, where indigenous and slave cultures became syncretic with colonist Christianity, what is deemed worthy remains personal.
Light-hearted and carnivalesque, Zapata’s Saint Rabbit’s human breasts and pregnant belly glisten with silver leaf, but knotted with roots, straw, rags, human hair, coconut husk, string, bones and shell, a Catholic saint reminds of voodoo dolls, and a gun-amulet hangs off the Shaman Protector’s tunic.
For Zapata, the personal is not just political, it is spiritual. There is Carmen, the girl who sought refuge as a servant at his grandmother’s farm, only to remain impoverished in a unjust society. Rendered in wood or charcoal, her bare feet have totemic power. And the wooden carving Death and Life, a tree sprouts its first green leaves beside a pale blue corpse. Here, Zapata pays homage to a child he witnessed gunned down in a Columbian street, and death, even a child’s, is understood as the antecedent of life.