Doris Salcedo: Artist Review

Sarah Ehrlich

The Paw Print

“The way that an artwork brings materials together is incredibly powerful. Sculpture is its materiality. I work with materials that are already charged with significance, with a meaning they have acquired in the practice of everyday life.” These are the words of Columbian sculptor Doris Salcedo who for years has been creating minimalistic art depicting political evils that harm her home country of Columbia. These works of art span from taking up an entire room to taking up entire empty lots where buildings once stood. The current exhibition of all her major works over her thirty-year career is currently residing at the Museum  of Contemporary Art-Chicago. I was lucky enough to explore this elegant and powerful display of oppression people face due to political corruption. Salcedo uses common building materials for her sculptures including wood, concrete, animal fiber, foliage, and clothing to express the loss of individuality a victim of violence has lost.

The exhibition starts with a more current piece called Plegaria Muda, meaning silent prayer. Each sculpture in this piece, which takes up an entire room, is composed of two tables inverted on top of each other, where live grass grows from the cracks of the tables. It should be observed that these tables are pretty much the same size as a coffin. Salcedo wanted to express the gang culture that is erupting in Los Angeles. She knows that violent acts that gangs partake in make it more difficult for LA youth to change and grow out of the poisonous area around them. As it’s difficult for grass to grow out of the  cracks of a table, young people have the same obstacles trying to recover from their flawed pass. Due to the ways gang members die, their deaths are seen as unimportant as modern society and Salcedo wishes to bring awareness to the lack of empathy we have towards violent deaths. With each blade of grass comes a sense of optimism, in hopes that victims of violence persevere and continue to flourish in their lives.

The next piece of the exhibition that spoke to me the most is called Atrabiliarios. This piece represents the especially awful treatment women victims of crimes endure. Usually the only remains of the cruelty are the women’s shoes. Salcedo embedded women’s shoes into the gallery’s wall, and covered them with opaque animal fiber, and secured it with medical sutures. The animal fiber acts as an object representing the fine line between remembrance and reality. Along with the many shoes hidden in the walls, are empty boxes predicting more acts of violence towards women are inevitable in the future.

Among these two works described are more pieces depicting the strength of the human body and the strength of victims of violence. Doris Salcedo wishes to shed light on the dignity of victims that are lost and not properly remembered. She has been recognized with many awards in her efforts to raise awareness about the unfair trials certain people of humanity must endure while their fellow man goes on with life, oblivious to the corruption around them. is powered by WordPress µ | Spam prevention powered by Akismet