January 2024 

Daniela Gomez Paz interviewed by Kristan Kennedy

Daniela Gomez Paz sat down with curator, artist, and educator, Kristan Kennedy to talk craft, decomposing hierarchies, language, and the works in “Corrientes enmarañadas / Streams of entanglements”, on view through March 16, 2024 at NOON Projects.

Kristan Kennedy: To begin the interview, I was thinking about writing as a part of your practice. With abstraction, we're often working with things that you can't put words on. Part of the reason we use the language of abstraction is to illustrate some knowledge that is only known through that process of making this mysterious thing. But we have a persistent desire to put words on things, right, to outline what they are either for ourselves or for other people. And I was wondering if you could talk about that, where words exist in your work, its adjacency, whether it's public or private, and these processes you have both in automatic writing and around art world discourse

Daniela Gomez Paz: I really struggle with conventional logical systems of writing as forms of self-expression. What comes natural to me is just allowing myself to make from the gut and allowing those voices to unfold on their own. When I'm making, I'm engaged with the language of a work’s texture and it's in constant communication with my body. Through my hands, I make gestures and these gestures start whispering words or at times phrases. Some are in Spanish, others in English or even in Spanglish. Some of the words that I can think of on top of my head are…derramar (pour), arrebatar (snatch), or aullido (howl). I feel the word’s presence while making arrangements and have most recently begun to cover my studio table with a cloth that I write freely on. The wholeness of my writing practice is private, however, I share glimpses of its experience. My relationship to words in the studio feels like another way for drawing or collaging to happen. I’ve observed that the way I write can feel disorienting in the way words loop and flip. Words help me see the site I am shaping. My relationship with words are not to define, but to understand changes that occur while I am engulfed in the process.
KK: I'm interested in these words that you've used in other interviews around this idea of hierarchy. And how you're making all these decisions as you're making work, like which materials to marry, how to structure a form, or use color. Can you talk about ways that you're trying to relate to hierarchy or not?

DGP: I am interested in the idea of decomposing or deconstructing material hierarchies. I get curious about the way different techniques can merge and work with one another inside out or upside down. My process trusts my body to make sense of things and I find myself working through many layers that feel entangled and part of a greater whole.

KK: I am thinking about how things take shape for you in your work and I am specifically thinking about the rectangle. For artists, there’s all this tradition of the rectangle and we're sometimes married to the wall in some way. When I was in art school, I learned about the rectangle as a window, in the 19th century European tradition, that the painting is a window and we're looking through it to influence compositions with things like foregrounds and background and all of that. I'm curious about your thoughts on the rectangle. Is it perhaps more akin to a blanket or another form for you? The space you occupy and the boundaries in your work seem to extend beyond the window concept.
DGP: My formative years as a painter in art school taught me this perspective that you mentioned. At that time, I related to the idea of the vignette more so than the window. I was interested in how this space was interpreted as a short description of a passage of time, a memory, or a thought. I became interested in finding ways of breaking the “view/image” free from the border’s limits. Overtime, I began to dabble in between painting and sculpture, and I recall being influenced by the New York experimental art world in the late 1960’s to mid 1970’s. I was interested in the way different artists questioned painting, its limits and engaged with interdisciplinary approaches to making. I think that each technique I employ brings different histories to the surface when engaging with space.

Although the rectangle presents itself in my work, I feel detached from it. My process has led me to take a closer look at the relationships between patterns and textures. Most recently I’ve observed that the rectangle has shifted into a circular shape and as I respond to this point of departure, I am experiencing more of an inner shaking of movement that stretches outward. Weaving led me to look into my Mestizaje and my own cultural memory. The threads of indigenous weaving patterns from the Andes often communicate information about specific regions, and the maker’s or wearer's identity. This history reminded me to look beyond the surface. It encouraged me to look within and outside the “grid”. The wisdom embedded in this history inspired me to rethink my relationship to nature and the body; it also motivated me to tell my own stories through cloth.

When I gather and assemble found material or objects, I am engaging from memory with a different crafting knowledge. My practice has also been influenced by the techniques of children, elders and young adults back from when I was a classroom teacher and teaching artist. I remember working with whatever we could repurpose! We would make hair out of paper, noodles, wire, and the possibilities were endless. These resourceful ways of building imagery, telling stories and of imagining continue to hold a deep impact on me.

KK: Weaving is a technique you employ with various materials, and is often associated with utility and craftsmanship. However, you bring a unique perspective by using unlikely materials, giving them agency and value. I appreciate your focus on broken or unconventional elements. Additionally, the act of weaving involves our bodily material, containing DNA, language, knowledge, and meaning.

Can you talk about your relationship to the body in your work and how you think these shapes relate to the structures and the forms you make?

DGP: The structures and forms I make are first felt through color and my hands automatically draw the gestures I am imagining. When I make sculpture, this requires more planning than my drawing brain is used to, but I make sure to leave room for the material to breathe and be in conversation with my body. For me the body is in relation to everything I do in the studio. I think about the body through layers. I think about its inner workings— functioning parts, bodily memory, and its emotional body. I process how the body is intertwined with everything outside of it and as I create tactile arrangements that feel both fluid and fixed; I suspend movement in place to halt time. In some ways, through the body, I document the undocumented.

KK: You refer to some of your works as tesaduras. Can you talk about this idea to tighten, to entangle, to connect these three core concepts that you have developed around the making of your work?

DGP: I created my first tesadura during my time at Yale while I was processing the color red. Although you can identify the techniques of painting, weaving, assemblage and sculpture in the work, I decided to bridge these processes and refer to the work as a tesadura. To tesar means to tighten. The word is descriptive of the process. It is a verb indicative of the way color was coiled, imagery was stitched and how the work resulted in building its own muscle. There is another series of relief sculptural works that are referred to as enredaduras, which mean to entangle and one series of works called ligaduras—which means to connect. Although I primarily work intuitively, writing about the actions that unfold in the studio feels like a reflective part of the process and I’m looking forward to seeing how these relationships will continue to shift and evolve over time.

KK: Can you speak to any of the works in your show at NOON Projects?

DGP: For the show, many of the works are at the intersections between embroidery, drawing, painting, and assemblage. My connection to embroidery stems from home. The embroidered imagery is of broken items that were given to me and belonged to my grandmother and mother. Most of them were adornments like manillas (bracelets), necklaces, rings, earrings, and pañoletas (scarves). I have been thinking about these items as sites, or as familial archives that provide a reflective space for me to contend with constructions of femininity. Their broken nature prompted me to reimagine their conditions and materiality. I experimented with new beeswax forms and mold-making techniques, exploring the physical body in relation to meditative thoughts about its interiority. These pieces feature more animal imagery in relation to the body. I feel them as ecosystems, entangled sites streaming through different timelines. I found myself doing automatic drawing more often than usual with ebony pencil. Transitioning from grayscale to color influenced me to incorporate thread and wool as gradients and I think of these gestures as cyclical motions. While some works express the energetic presence of my femininity through radiating transparencies of color and gestures; other pieces honor the complex nature and intergenerational exchange of mujeres in my life— sus saberes, knowledge, strengths, as well as their support networks.
KK: What brought you to the decision to only work in Ebony or to be in this sort of monochromatic space while you were drawing?

DGP: My work is usually very physical and it is made in relation to my body’s dimensions and organs. The process of drawing felt more eye to heart centered, allowing me to hold it in more intimate ways, forming the basis for the entire body of work.

 KK: I realize that I haven't asked you about your work's relationship to the environment and the way that we talked about the corporeal and the body, but how your work is related to the rest of the world and place and the texture of place and all of the places that you've traversed, not only in your own personal history of where you grew up and then where you've immigrated to and living in Queens and going to school in New Haven. How does the inclusion of animal life in your work or the show manifest and contribute to the overall relationship you're exploring?

DGP: I consider myself to be a processor of things and that’s honestly something that I am continuing to unpack. I anchor my work with personal history to situate my questions and curiosities. I think through the entanglements of inner to outer relationships. Some reflections I’ve gathered about animals consider the way certain insects migrate intergenerationally, like the monarch butterfly. Other times, I find myself engulfed in nature’s texts. Texts of textural worlds that result from organic and inorganic tensions. I think about the way these textural worlds feel, endure, and I imagine ways of transcribing them in relation to the body. My relationship to textiles engages with their history as texts, and contemplates the way they’ve existed as feminist forms of expression. In the studio, this body of work was made listening to the lyrical power of cantoras (singers) such as Silvana Estrada, Briela Ojeda, Natalia Lafourcade, and La Muchacha. It has left me thinking about musical memory and I am curious to see where this leads me to.

January 2024

Kristan Kennedy b. 1972 is a Portland-based artist, curator, and educator. Kennedy the Artistic Director and Curator of Visual Art at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). For the last decade, Kennedy has focused on commissioning new work by international emerging artists in the form of large-scale, site-specific installations and solo projects that exist at the borders of genres. Kennedy takes an expansive view of visual art and also organizes music, performance art, publications, social engagement and new media projects as part of PICA’s year-round programming and for the organization’s annual Time-Based Art Festival. Kennedy teaches Contemporary Art and Critical Thinking at the Pacific Northwest College of Art as part of their MFA in Visual Studies department. She is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon.