I am a Miami native, researching the relationship between natural environments and the formation of communities. I examine archaeological materials and ecological transformations in the Americas and Caribbean. The materials I use - tropical flora, exotic birds, sports stadiums, National Geographic magazines, belongings from my family members - engage with historic and imagined depictions of diasporic civilizations and the Latinx identity. Pulling from my Colombian and Afro-Cuban background, I create figurative effigies echoing archaeological sites and earthwork in the Americas. I replicate artifacts by collecting from the environment, utilizing found objects and historically sought after plants from the Subtropics.
Priscilla Aleman graduated from Columbia University with her MFA in Sculpture. She combines her art practice working with archaeologists in Miami establishing the historic preservation committee. Aleman’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Margulies Collection, YoungArts, among other venues. She has participated at Wheaton Arts, ICA Summer Seminar, Wave Hill, and has received numerous grants including The Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation, Cintas artist relief, and is a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
Images courtesy the artist.
Interview questions developed by 2020 AIM Curatorial Intern Niu Niu Zhang.
Important Pre-Colombian Tomb of the Red Queen. Cosina Mia. Mary Suarez.
Plaster Casts, Mineral Pigments, Macaw Feathers, Shells, Seeds, Rosary beads, Dishes, Flowers, and Home Kitchen.
108 x 60 x 30 in.
Daydreams of Florida
Plaster Cast, collected textiles, mineral pigments, semi precious stone, coconut, sea-grape seeds, banana flowers, ceramic mangos, pressed mango leaves, unfired clay, macaw feathers
60 x 96 x 30 in.
Q&A with Priscilla Aleman
Why do you think representing the sacred is important today?
In these circumstances when we are especially confined, the idea of public space is no longer intellectual; it is every person's day to day yearning. I want to engage and explore the idea of public space with an eye towards inclusion and expanding what is thought possible with art and the sacred. I think humans generally operate by seeing the world in symbols and we are all pulling from a diverse lexicon of imagery and signifiers, but there are certain innate symbols in human history that show up in figurative sculptures. Some of these sculptures create an aura of another realm, something beyond human, and hold the space in a way that is open. I feel like we need a point of reflection- temple, monument, shrine, constellations, the moon- to be able to move forward, or at least be in stillness when the world feels shaky.
How does the medium of sculpture help you put forward the topics of sacredness and culture in your art?
Utilizing sculpture to occupy sports fields is part of my investigation of early earth works, such as the Lines of Nazca (Peru), Chichen Itza (Yucatan), Gobekli Tepe (Turkey), Chaco Canyon (New Mexico). Using modern day sports arenas in conversation with early signs of human civilization, recreational symbols, layouts for ceremony, and units of measures, I look into the ways we navigate space socially and how we have created sacred arenas to connect with other realms and cosmic forces.
Terracotta (ceramic), collected roof tiles after hurricane Wilma
96 x 48 x 5 in.
60 x 60 x 5 in.