Artist: Dulce Soledad Ibarra
Exhibition: Manos de Oro
Media: Projection, Foliage greenery, Mechanical Installation
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Max L. Gatov Gallery East
This week’s artist conversation brought me to Dulce Soledad Ibarra. As a current CSULB Senior, she is pursuing her bachelors in Fine Arts: Sculpture. She is a native of Chino who is currently living and working in Long Beach. After graduating from high school she decided to work and not pursue schooling. It was after inspiration from her younger sister’s educational progress that she returned to school and attended Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga. As seen in her installation Manos De Oro and her personal statement, both online and in the gallery; she comes from humble beginnings, with a core of family that veers away from material possessions itself and towards the meaning full connections made with materials that are a part of daily life.
While walking around the quad I was visiting the gallery of another artist and I could hear “Mi Viejo” by Piero through the walls. I immediately said in my head “Where is that coming from?” When another student told me that it was from a gallery next door I mentally told myself to be strong and keep it together, as that song always tugs on my emotions. It is safe to say that what brought me to Dulce Soledad Ibarra’s gallery was the music. The song speaks from a son’s point of view that is aware of his father growing older and closer to his death. It is a touching song that really made me not only think of my father but my mother as well. So when I entered Ibarra’s gallery I must admit that tears did form. The gallery consisted of a projection on the north wall with the song playing in loop. The projection video was of a gardener tending to bushes and a rose garden. He is a visibly older man but still with enough energy to produce great work. The man in the video is Dulce’s father. On both sides of the projection are several burlap sacks of cut brush, foliage, grass, and branches. As you move closer to examine the sacks on the right you notice that the one has a small media player with a video in loop. There are two videos overlapping each other. One video is what is being projected on the wall while the other is of a person in a red shirt doing the same work and her father. Another bag on the right also has a mold of a hand reaching out of the sack, this hand is covered in gold paint; a reflection of the title of the installation. The sacks on the left of the projection have several beautiful red roses hidden and something painted in gold as well. On the walls of the gallery sparingly hang a rake, a shovel, and trimmers, all with their edges in gold. The gallery floor has a semi large piece of green grass turf with small inserts of patches of grass that hold mechanical parts to a lawn mower . These pieces are all gold painted and spread on the floor. Finally, on the floor also sit 2 actual lawn mowers that have several pieces painted in gold such as the motor, but also have their original colors of black and red, as in the handle. The installation pieces are spaced out so that the gallery feels spacious and the smell of the foliage give it a lively and homey feel.
One of the first questions I asked Dulce was regarding the video; I wanted to know who the man was even though I had the idea of who it was. Once she confirmed that it was her father; the installation took on a much more symbolic and touching meaning. She said this work was a symbol of her father’s hard work and dedication to his family to provide and encourage the success of her and her 5 siblings. Through this installation she hopes to show that she herself is aware that her father left his native Mexico years ago for a better life. The initial move of his departure brings a sense of guilt to him because he left his family to create a better life for his future family. Dulce said that she has that in common with her father; guilt. For him; the guilt of leaving Mexico and for her, the guilt of leaving home and work to go to school to try to create a better future for herself. But after the guilt surpasses, the work done and the objects used to create that work are so meaningful and represent family values that it does provide an encouragement to keep moving forward. According to Dulce this is the foundation of the installation; that her father’s work is gold because of all the reasons he does it; family. After knowing that piece of information Dulce mentions that the installation is pretty much self-explanatory. The value of gold resembles how she sees her father’s work. His years in landscaping have made him a laborer of hard work but also an encouragement for his children. She also mentioned that in one burlap sack the overlapping video is something she wants to further expand it a different project. The video shows her father doing his landscaping while overlapped by a video of another person doing the same in a red shirt. She revealed that one day she started to do the landscape of a house in her normal street closet attire. She had several people stop, stare and asked her questions of what she was doing. The next day she returned wearing her father’s clothes which included a red shirt. This time as she was doing the same job no one stopped, no one asked, and as she puts it “No one saw me”. Again for Dulce this shows how for others her father’s work may go unnoticed, but for her it means so much.
I really enjoyed this piece, as I said the music alone drew me in from another gallery. I connected with the main idea of the installation which reminded me of all the sacrifices that my mother and father did for me. Sometimes the hard labor of our parents is not glamourous, easy, or even appreciated by us at a young age but, when we are older and experience life; we learn the value in their difficult labor and learn to appreciate. We appreciate their labor it more than anyone else ever could or any amount of money could ever place value on. I think that Dulce did a great job in reflecting this in her piece. I think even the choice of gold to cover the pieces speaks in many languages. It was nice to hear that when she showed her family everyone got emotional and even her father seemed to soften up a bit. I think that this was a nice homage to her father; she got to show him while he is still here with us; how much she is grateful. This piece shows daily iron, cold, motorized materials that mean so much to certain individuals because they connect to deeper family values.