Sarah Rosalena (Wixárika) is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher who merges Native craft traditions with futures technology in a bid to transcend colonial narratives. Her use of mediums and materials is informed by research into history and science, and reflective of personal, cultural, and societal experiences. Her new site-specific sculptural installation at LA State Historic Park, For Submersion—a project of Clockshop in partnership with The Chapter House—recalls that the park’s location was the floodplain of Paayme Paxaayt, the Los Angeles River. Decorating a river rock with mixed media Wixárika yarn-painting, before 3-D scanning and digitally fabricating the outdoor sculpture, Rosalena created an anachronistic object both of this world and from the future, squarely at the center of the current discourse on both Indigenous rights and natural resources—as well as the connecting the realms of textile and tech-based art practices. Interestingly, the LASHP installation was delayed twice due to heavy rainfall, but ultimately realized its function as a rainwater collector, and appeared to float in an area of the park itself designed to collect water and feed the aquifer.
Despite her connection to the earth, Rosalena’s gaze often turns towards the stars. Her next exhibition opens on May 6 at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, inside the 100-inch Hooker telescope, examining women’s labor and colonialism in the context of western scientific thought and the imaging of space. Standard Candle features a series of woven and beaded textiles made using computer code and based on images captured by the famous telescope. Her work in textile-based art also manifests in a series of narrative weaving sessions at the LASHP installation—and her interest in outer space further asserts itself in her current exhibition at MOCA Santa Barbara. In a series of textiles and ceramics Rosalena explores eight-pointed star motifs used in Wixárika patterns as a template for weaving images of stars, in hybrid forms created both by hand and by software.
L.A. WEEKLY: What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
SARAH ROSALENA: My work deconstructs technology with material interventions, creating hybrid objects that function between human/nonhuman, ancient/future, handmade/autonomous, beyond power structures rooted in colonialism. I am shaped by the origins, character, and assembly of weaving.
When did you first know you were an artist?
When I was around 10, doing weaving and embroidery with my grandmother. I also started to play violin around that time and saw them both interconnected.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I have two major upcoming solo exhibitions: Pointing Star at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara through July 30, and Standard Candle with LACMA at Mount Wilson Observatory opening May 6. In addition, my public work For Submersion with Clockshop is currently on view at Los Angeles Historic State Park until May 28.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
I was born and raised in Northeast L.A. and support the Indigenous community here.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, to become an art professor and pioneer computational craft.
Web and social, please!
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