Rodrigo Lara Zendejas
I create memorials—fragmented, mischievous, and imperfect realities that reflect both a formal break from traditional shape, while presenting an assemblaged version of our collective social and political thoughts, concerns, and hopes. Although I was trained in the traditions of classical art, my pieces now are not always clean. Or finished. Or beautiful. My work holds the memory of an intimate process of becoming. In some bodies of work, I present obvious nooks and gashes, broad, quick strokes, and secretive, featherlike fingerprints, all of which aided in the modeling of the clay during the process of bringing the subject to life. It is this visceral and intimate approach to materials and form that drive my subjects of memory and memorialization through all of my works.
When considering the human form and its relationship to memorialization, immediate thoughts of bronze statues at historical sites come to mind. My fascination, however, is in the way that memory— with its inherent, ever-changing fluidity—disrupts our ability to fully or truthfully freeze, or memorialize people, moments, or perspectives in history. Instead, it is our momentary glimpses of memory and hindsight that drive how we understand the present.
As a Mexican immigrant to the United States, my works often rely on my own fragmented memories and stories of home, my direct experiences with fervent Catholicism, and others’ heroic (yet common) anecdotes of border crossing and acclimating to living in America. However, while my memories and relationships to patriotism, politics, my background, and my longing for the familiar certainly influence my work, it is my interest in the process, the poetics of the materials, and the action of sculpting that motivate my continued practice.