Modesto Covarrubias: Liminal
April 10 – July 3, 2010
An immersive site-specific installation exploring ideas relating to shelter, memories and imagined spaces.
The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is thrilled to present Modesto Covarrubias: Liminal, a site-specific installation exploring ideas related to site, space, and memory. As the first emerging artist to participate in the ICA’s series of installation-based solo exhibitions, Covarrubias joins a roster of established Bay Area artists who have presented large-scale and immersive works in the ICA’s Focus Gallery.
Liminal is the culmination of Covarrubias’ observations of the ICA’s architecture and space. For several months, the artist has studied how light pours through the skylights to cast shadows on the walls, noted the way air moves when the front doors open and thoughtfully listened to the ambient sounds of the galleries. Informed by this research, Covarrubias has created a site specific installation comprised of suspended layers of tracing paper. The accumulation of this overlaid film dramatically alters the physical space and our relationship to it. As we move through the installation, we may notice the subtle movement of light, the various tones of transparency or the quiet flutter of the paper. In paying close attention to what may otherwise be considered invisible, Covarrubias has built an environment intended for introspection.
Covarrubias has long been interested in the perception of space and how it can alter or be altered by one’s mental state. When he was a child growing up in San Jose, he created forts, houses and spaceships to transport himself to imaginary worlds. Today, he employs a similar process of play and experimentation to communicate his artistic vision. The blurry layers of the installation convey his “veiled emotions and memories” associated with coming back to his boyhood home, a place that was once familiar and now feels different. Where we are, according to Covarrubias, is not just to a dot on a map but is relative to memories, relationships and a state-of-mind.
In addition to his personal experience, Covarrubias’ work has been deeply influenced by a long line of contemporary artists practicing minimalism, abstraction and conceptualism including Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra. Interested in perception, architecture, light, and space, Covarrubias often begins with a sketch, which develops into a sculpture or installation and is often captured in a photograph. In addition to his immersive installation, Covarrubias will be an Artist-in-Residence at the ICA Print Center where he will create a set of limited edition prints.
Modesto Covarrubias is a San Jose native who lives and works in Berkeley. He recently graduated with an MFA in Studio Art from Mills College, and in 2005 earned a BFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been exhibited in Italy, New York City and throughout the Bay Area.