In her new exhibition at New York's El Museo del Barrio, Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos, Nuyorican artist Rodriguez Calero merges religious imagery and iconography with popular urban culture. The show includes 36 large ‘acrollage’ canvases, 47 smaller collages, 13 fotacrolés (altered photographs) on canvas board, and three mixed-media works on paper.
“The survey includes portrayals of men and women of color, bearing the urban experience in the pose of their bodies, while giving witness to the sacredness of life, sometimes in the midst of trial and alienation,” explains show’s press release. Calero's works catches the eye with it’s radiant abstract display of color and drags the viewer into a deeper social commentary about presentation and symbolism. In particular, her surrealist abstract collages overlap medieval religious painting with contemporary popular media’s depiction of urban life and culture.
Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos is the second installment in El Museo’s now-annual series of women-artist retrospectives. It is the first museum survey, however, of Calero’s work—a fact which El Museo's executive director Jorge Daniel Veneciano responded to with, “Greater recognition for the hip-hop and Byzantine work of Rodríguez Calero is long overdue. No one is contemporary art makes a clearer case for collage as the natural medium for hip-hop culture.”
Urban Martyrs and Latter Day Santos opens today, July 22nd, and will be on display until October 17th.
x 7 7⁄8".
Rodríguez Calero, Check the Motion, 2002, 11 3⁄4"x 12 3⁄4", Private Collection.
Click here to see more of Rodriguez Calero's work.