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The Broken Ground - Exhibitions - Sperone Westwater

Left, Gamaliel Rodríguez, La "flor" del Dwarf Red Banana, 2024
Right, Letha Wilson, Yellowstone Sunrise Idaho Lava, 2021

Press Release

Sperone Westwater is pleased to present “The Broken Ground,” a two-person show featuring Gamaliel Rodríguez and Letha Wilson. Working in drawing and painting, and mixed media sculpture, respectively, both artists utilize the landscape as a point of departure. Taken from the title of a 1964 poem by Wendell Berry, broken ground can be understood as the first step in the creation of something new, as an outcome of either manmade or natural processes. While Rodríguez conjures a sense of mystery and allegory through light and color, Wilson extracts momentary perceptions from the larger world and recasts them within her sculptural practice.

Employing a limited palette of blues, ochres and purples, Gamaliel Rodríguez constructs atmospheric landscapes that investigate the legacies of colonialism and industrial development in the Caribbean. Deserted and deteriorating man-made structures such as military bases, religious buildings, airports and schools – buildings that both spatially and symbolically exert power – transition into hybrid forms consumed by vegetal overgrowth.

In works such as Orinoco/Topocho en gestación, 2024, and Evolved Cavendish, 2022, Rodríguez considers the inextricable relationship between the economic and ecological, depicting species of now-ubiquitous plants like banana and breadfruit that were initially brought to Puerto Rico in the eighteenth century to feed enslaved people. Emanating beams of light or smoke, the trees are cast “as almost mystical entities [...] prompting a reconsideration of these lifeforms as both agents and witnesses.”¹

Merging photography with industrial materials, Letha Wilson creates a dialogue between natural and built environments. Wilson utilizes photographic prints not as a static record of a place and time, but as a raw material for sculpture. Her practice references a 19th century photographic tradition, which sought to capture a sense of the sublime in the vast natural landscape of the American West.

While carrying forth that vision of powerful natural forces at work, Wilson’s rejection of the concept of photography as simply a window to gaze into manifests in the physical encounter of the printed image with poured concrete and steel. Wilson fragments, perforates, compresses, folds and projects her photographs onto irregular surfaces and geometric forms. At times her titles retrace the co-mingling of disparate acts – witnessing and doing – as in Craters of the Moon Fold Back, 2021, and Death Valley Mosaic Canyon Reclaimed Steel, 2020, while others connect places and phenomena, as in Yellowstone Sunrise Idaho Lava, 2021.

There will be an opening reception from 5-7 PM on June 20th. For press inquiries, please contact Natasha Wolff, natasha@speronewestwater.com. For sales inquiries contact sales@speronewestwater.com.

¹ Alexandra Méndez García, Independent Curator

The Broken Ground - Exhibitions - Sperone Westwater

Left, Gamaliel Rodríguez. Photo Credit: SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah GA
Right, Letha Wilson. Photo Credit: Willy Wilson

Artist Biographies

Gamaliel Rodríguez (born 1977 in Bayamón, Puerto Rico) lives and works between San Juan, PR and the Bronx, NY. He received his MFA from the Kent Institute of Art and Design, UK (2005) and his BA from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan (2004). In 2011, he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland (2023-24); MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2020); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2016); and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan (2013). Rodríguez’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2023; 2017); USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL (2021); Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (2018; 2012); and the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2015). He has participated in numerous residencies and fellowships at MASS MoCA (2018); Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE (2017); the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Brooklyn, NY (2013); and MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH (2012). Rodríquez’s works can be found in collections including The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Colby College Museum of Art, ME; MUSAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; SCAD Museum of Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Letha Wilson (born 1976 in Honolulu, HI) was raised in Greeley, CO. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and Taghkanic, NY. She earned her MFA from Hunter College, New York (2003) and her BFA from Syracuse University, NY (1998). Wilson’s work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at The Richard and Dolly Maass Gallery at SUNY Purchase, NY (2023); GRIMM, London, Amsterdam and New York (2023, 2019, 2018, 2015); Higher Pictures, Brooklyn (2022; 2014; 2012); Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris (2021, 2016, 2014); Anderson Ranch, Aspen, CO (2021); the Center for Contemporary Art and Culture, Portland, OR (2017); and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2017). Her work has been included in group shows at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC (2024); Southern Utah Museum of Art, Cedar City (2021); Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway (2020); Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, MA (2019); MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2017); Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH (2016); MACRO Museo d’ Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2016); Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria (2012); Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE (2011); Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY (2008); the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT (2008); and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx (2004). Residencies include Windgate Artist in Residence, SUNY Purchase, NY (2022); The MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH (2018); University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2017); Light Work, Syracuse, NY (2015); Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, Brooklyn (2014-15); Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA (2013); The Yaddo Foundation, New York (2012); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE (2011); Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME (2009); and Santa Fe Art Institute, Santa Fe, NM (2009). Her work is collections including the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University; New York Public Library; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Wellin Museum of Art, Hamilton, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.