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Burning in Water presents a arge-scale, immersive installation fashioned from street materials
Devoid of overt figurative elements, Gallo’s sculptures nevertheless embody intensely personal and autobiographic qualities.


NEW YORK, NY.- Burning in Water is presenting Borinquen Gallo: Like a Jungle Orchid for a Lovestruck Bee. The exhibition features a series of sculptures and a large-scale, immersive installation fashioned from intricately reconstituted street materials, such as yellow and red “caution” tape, construction tarps, garbage bags, discarded hub-caps and debris netting. The show is the inaugural solo exhibition of the artist’s work in New York.

Devoid of overt figurative elements, Gallo’s sculptures nevertheless embody intensely personal and autobiographic qualities. Born in Rome to a Puerto Rican mother and an Italian father, Gallo subsequently spent her formative years living in the Bronx, where she continues to reside and maintains her studio. Despite their genesis in humble, disposable materials, Gallo’s totemic sculptures entail soaring, flourishing gestures reminiscent of the classical art and architectural influences to which she was broadly exposed as a child. The works also yield a sense of meditative contemplation and a yearning toward transcendence that reflect the artist’s early, prolonged exposure to premodern Italian art.

By contrast, the materials that Gallo employs serve as fragmentary physical embodiments of her external environment in the Bronx - a locale to which she feels profoundly connected. Elements such as the caution tape used to cordon off degenerated buildings or crime scenes evoke the troubled history of the area, while other materials such as the tarps of blue plastic that are ubiquitous among construction sites in the area allude to its ongoing social and physical transformation. By closely integrating materials from the physical and social settings of her life with self-referential thematic concerns, Gallo’s work serves to collapse distinctions between personal memory and identity and external physical and social settings - thereby reframing her work as a distinctive integration of individual and communal elements.

Gallo’s methods also reflect a coalescence between such realms. The majority of her artworks involve extensive weaving, which she performs by hand. Each of these works require weeks or months of personal labor. Gallo describes the weaving process as both repetitive and deeply meditative: a sort of physical mantra. She characterizes her approach to such work as “quasi-hypnotic.” She considers a sense of temporal disruption as a fundamental element of both her process and the resulting object. While weaving, she often subjectively experiences a sense of time slowing. The physical act of hand-weaving entails an anachronistic approach to process that strives toward the archetypal. The use of mass-produced and highly-disposable materials binds the work to a contemporary timeframe, even while her methods serve to strain and attenuate these connections. The resulting works, with their tension between the ephemeral and the superannuated, yield a similarly asynchronous state for the viewer.

Although the vast majority of Gallo’s labor is painstakingly wrought by her own hand, at other points she abruptly modulates her production methods towards the collective by utilizing students or community members to participate in the aggregation of discrete elements into large-scale or installation works. Gallo consciously considers her process at such points as shifting to a inclusive endeavor with “social connotations,” whereby the production is transformed into a “visual metaphor for community.”

By deliberately restricting herself to the use of disposable materials intrinsic to urban settings, Gallo elaborates complex tensions between the ephemeral and the enduring; the disposable and the sacred; creation and decay. Although the ubiquity of plastic and industrial materials in Gallo’s work inevitably raises issues related to consumerism and environmentalism, she aims for a radical shift in perspective rather than didacticism or over-simplification. Across a broad range of considerations — material, formal, psychologically intimate and social — Gallo aims “to modulate between the familiar and the surprising” so as to “fundamentally disrupt viewers’ assumptions regarding what is what is valuable.”

Born in Rome to a Puerto Rican mother and an Italian father, Gallo subsequently spent her formative years living in the Bronx, where she continues to reside and maintains her studio. She trained as a painter, but later gravitated towards the use of unorthodox materials reflective of her local environs. Despite their genesis in humble, disposable materials, Gallo’s totemic sculptures entail soaring, flourishing gestures reminiscent of the classical art and architectural influences to which she was broadly exposed as a child. The works also yield a sense of meditative contemplation and a yearning toward transcendence.

Borinquen Gallo: Like a Jungle Orchid for a Lovestruck Bee is on view through November 18 at Burning in Water gallery, 317 10th Avenue in New York.

Borinquen Gallo (b. 1975, Rome) is a Bronx-based artist whose work delves into themes of beauty, community and purpose through sculpture and large installations. Previous exhibition venues include The National Academy Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Queens Museum, Columbia University, The Cooper Union and Queens College. Gallo received her BFA in Painting and Sculpture from The Cooper Union for The Advancement of Science and Art her MFA in Painting from Hunter College. She has received numerous distinctions including the Sol Shaviro Award (2015), the Marion Netter Fellowship (2010) and the Doris Liebowitz Art Educator Award (2009). She has completed residencies at The Vermont Studio Center and The Cooper Union. In addition, she has worked on curatorial projects with BAM, Fisher and the Pratt Institute. Gallo is currently Assistant Professor of Art and Design Education at Pratt Institute in New York.

Burning in Water is a New York City art gallery and project space featuring an innovative curatorial program that highlights the work of living artists with reference to broader social issues confronting society. Founded in 2015 by Barry Thomas Malin, the gallery collaborates with non-profit and community-based organizations in presenting its projects. Past non-profit partners have included JustLeadership USA, Free Arts NYC, UHAI EASHRI and the Wild Bird Fund.





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