Knot: The Art of Sebastian/El Arte de Sebastian
Through June 5, 2016
Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Gallery

Continually pushing onwards, the recent artworks by the renowned Mexican sculptor Sebastian investigate the infinite possibilities abundant in knotted and interlaced structures derived from cosmology and quantum physics. These explorations and many more are included in the upcoming exhibition Knot: The Art of Sebastian, opening at the El Paso Museum of Art on February 24, 2016. Inspired by the artist’s three monumental public sculptures recently installed in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, this exhibition recognizes the accomplishments of the artist whose public monuments are located from Mexico to Japan and from Switzerland to Argentina.

Knot, Sebastian’s first exhibition at the El Paso Museum of Art, includes fifty-five artworks in seven different media from throughout the last forty-plus years of his career, as well as an immersive video experience of multi-color transformations of the geometric forms that are a basis of the artist’s recent Quantic and Parallel Universes sculptures. The main focus of Knot is the artist’s ongoing quest for new knowledge discovered through his synthesis of art, technology, geometry and the physical sciences. Using free imagination combined with his knowledge of mathematics and an in-depth understanding of natural materials, the artworks included demonstrate how Sebastian creates that which has not been created before, and how the artist’s quest for the mysterious unknown in nature and humanity drives his creative process onward. The artist’s interactive, experimental process is evident from his 1970s breakthrough series, the cardboard Desplegables (“Folders”), and his plastic Transformables series onward. In the early 1990s the artist’s research led him to develop the Cultivated Sculptures series, which explores the concept of fractals and the Chaos theory, again unifying art, science and technology.

Knot: The Art of Sebastian includes small, medium and large-scale artworks in order to examine Sebastian’s practice in relation to public art and architecture and how the two concepts at times overlap. Architectural models and medium to small-scale versions of six monumental public sculptures are considered in the context of Sebastian’s public monuments which often combine the brilliant colors of Pop art with the abstract forms of minimalism and are at the same time gestural and emotionally expressive.

Sebastian (Enrique Carbajal González), born on November 16, 1947, in Ciudad Camargo, Chihuahua, Mexico, studied at the San Carlos Academy of Art in Mexico City and began teaching with his mentor Mathais Goeritz at UNAM (the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) soon afterwards. During his time at UNAM Sebastian began exhibiting his work and has continued steadily ever since. Today, Sebastian, the recipient of six honorary doctorates, has exhibited his work in over 190 solo exhibitions and is one of the world's foremost living sculptors.

Curated by the EPMA Curator, Christian J. Gerstheimer, Knot: The Art of Sebastian is scheduled for presentation in the Museum’s largest temporary exhibition space, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Gallery, and is made possible through the generous support of The Consulate General of Mexico, which presents the exhibition as a vehicle for sharing Mexican culture within the United States. The exhibition will be accompanied by a public lecture, a book signing and a demonstration of the Transformable sculptures by the artist in addition to special educational programming for children that introduces the importance of math and science in Sebastian’s creative production.

Knot: The Art of Sebastian exhibition catalog available at the Museum Store - $25

Ray Parish Humpbacks and Warheads
May 29 – September 11, 2016
Dede Rogers Special Events Gallery

Willie Ray Parish (American, b.  1947)
Deep Dive (from Humpback series), 1992
Brass, 35” x 42” x 10”
Purchased with funds provided by the Robert U. and Mabel O. Lipscomb Foundation Endowment
Collection of El Paso Museum of Art

Humpbacks and Warheads is the first solo exhibition at the El Paso Museum of Art for an artist who has been a catalyst of the El Paso, Ciudad Juarez and Las Cruces arts community’s for over thirty years. During this time Ray Parish has worked simultaneously as a university art instructor, curator, juror and an artist-residency director in addition to being a sculptor of status.

Including one dozen sculptures of metal and wood from El Paso collections, the artwork shown is mostly abstract, but obliquely references real-world issues such as the environment and international, military power-struggles. Throughout his career Parish has questioned the purpose of art and often experimented with the context of art. Three notable examples from his practice are: a public sculpture made by grafting trees together, a public sculpture that is kinetic and/or requires visitor participation and an Airstream trailer with a piano crushed on top.

Parish was born in Mississippi and received his BFA from the University of Mississippi in 1970 and an MFA from the Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles County in 1978. In 1997 he and the artist Becky Hendrick founded the Border Art Residency in La Union, NM. Parish taught sculpture at the UTEP art department from 1984- 2013 inspiring generations of young artists. His public sculptures can be found on display in El Paso, Texas at: three locations on the University of Texas El Paso campus, Wiggins Middle School, and the Sky Boulder Park.  Outside of El Paso Parish’s public sculptures have been exhibited in Taos, NM at the Earthship Visitors Center, Colorado State University, the University of Tennessee, Louisiana State University and the College of Santa Fe. His work is in the permanent collections of: Albuquerque Museum of Art, Baylor University, Mississippi Museum of Art, the El Paso Museum of Art, Santa Fe College, University of Mississippi, and Weber State University.

Female Saints and Heroes
Through November 6, 2016
Dorrance and Olga Roderick Gallery

Anonymous (Mexican, 19th century)
Saint Hedwig, early 19th century
Oil on tin, 13 ¾” x 10”
Gift of Dr. Steven McKnight in honor of Frank and Sara McKnight
Collection of El Paso Museum of Art

The upcoming retablo exhibition focuses on an uncommon retablo subject, the representation of female saints. The El Paso Museum of Art has become the second largest repository of 19th-century Mexican retablos in the United States, with a collection of 900. Out of the entire retablo collection only 5% showcase female saints as the main subject. Though the subject matter is considered hard to find in retablo art, it is an important theme present in the Museum’s collection. Female Saints and Heroes celebrates the piety, wisdom, and physical suffering of female saints and also highlights their influence on the lives of 19th-century Mexican women.  

Devotional images created in the 19th century of female saints were specifically targeted towards a female audience. They were used as practical role models and served to reassure the viewer that she could achieve an intimate spiritual association with Christ. Female saints were portrayed in retablos in a manner that would illustrate the accomplishments of the saints’ labor and determination and highlight their purity and connection with God. Female Saints and Heroes includes the representation of ten saints who encompass this idea: Saint Anne, Saint Barbara, Saint Hedwig, Saint Helen, Saint Gertrude the Great, Mary Margaret Alacoque, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Rosalie of Palermo, Saint Teresa, and Saint Wilgefortis/Saint Librada.

A special feature of this exhibition is the representation of women in ex-votos. Ex-votos are narrative images displayed publicly in churches or shrines and used to commemorate a miracle and give thanks to a particular religious figure. They usually include an image of the saint being thanked and a portrayal of the person who commissioned the retablo. The depiction of female donors in ex-votos is important because it showcases women as patrons of the arts in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It also provides proof that commissioning art was an important aspect in the devotional life of Mexican women.    

The existing EPMA retablo collection has come from a variety of sources, but most importantly thanks to gifts from the following major patrons: Nancy Hamilton, Dorrance and Olga Roderick, Frank and Sara McKnight, as well as the McKnight couple’s children, Dr. Steven McKnight, Elizabeth McKnight Manning, and Nancy McKnight Howell. This retablo exhibition celebrating an uncommon category of retablo art represents a continuation of this generosity within one of the most important realms of our institution’s collection and collecting mission.

Modern Stone Totems
Through July 2016
Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery


Modern Stone Totems is a new exhibition of abstract yet figuratively suggestive sculptures installed in early December in the recently named Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery.  Variously composed of different types of granite, limestone, marble, and onyx, and dating from 1971 to 1990, the four totem-like modernist stone sculptures entered the EPMA collection as gifts or purchases from 1971 to 2011. The unique surfaces and forms of each piece invite individual study, while their installation together in the space of the Mac Rogers Fine Arts Gallery proposes a dialogue between the works’ muted colors and between their evocative silhouettes. 
The first of these sculptures to enter the collection was The Eagle, carved in 1971 by the Mexican painter and sculptor Leonardo Nierman (born 1932), and gifted by the artist the same year. At first glance the work might suggest the extremely simplified profile of a standing human figure, but then we can observe the sidewise soaring eagle indicated by the title. The sleek and waxy surfaces of this delicately and naturally fissured piece might recall the purified natural forms and contours in the work of Romanian-born French modernist sculptor Brancusi, while its fragile white onyx material transmits light in subtle ways when struck by the sun’s rays through the lobby windows. The other three sculptures in this elegant ensemble were created by American sculptors with strong Texas connections: Song Bird (1963) by Ben Woitena (born 1942); Guardian (1988) by Jill Sablosky (born 1954); and Ellipse (1990) by Jesús Moroles (born 1950). Song Bird was the latest addition to the collection, gifted in 2011 by the previous EPMA director, Becky Duval Reese, and her husband. Fashioned from Georgia gray marble, Song Bird leaves angles of the original rectangular stone slab intact, which encourages us to consider how the artist liberated his forms, and also frames and underlines the compositional sense of ascendant thrust. The sculpture by Jesús Moroles, Ellipse, features Moroles’s favorite medium, granite (in this case, Italian and Texan granites), a material he poetically considers “the core and heart of the universe.” And finally, Sablosky’s multi-piece Guardian incorporates Trani marble with Indiana, Cordova, Fossil, and Leuders limestones. While the varied textures and forms of these four sculptures hint at tactile pleasures and encourage us to imagine their carving, each of them also resembles a modern totem pole, encouraging us to walk between them and consider their potential shared, separate, and suggested meanings.