This summer’s immersive installation of colorful, assembled-object sculptures by Miami-based artist Federico Uribe opens at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum on Saturday, June 2. For his site-specific installation, “The World According to Federico Uribe,” on view at the Museum through Aug. 26, Uribe will create a large-scale, walk-in environment – thought-provoking, yet brimming with whimsy and joy. On the opening day of the exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum, Uribe leads a gallery walk and shares insights about his work on Saturday, June 2, 1-2 p.m.
Uribe’s effusive, exuberant sculptures of animals and jungle scenes are fanciful transformations of everyday objects reimagined and reconstructed in unexpected, often witty ways – designed to delight. Carefully cut colored pencils become a giraffe, wooden crutches convey a crocodile, telephone cords convert into a sheep’s curly fleece, tennis racquets morph into a camel, white electric wires represent a ram’s coarse coat.
Uribe infuses some sculptures with incisive irony through the materials he chooses to use. He turns books into trees, shoe leather into animals, measuring tapes into pigs, and bullet shell casings into bunnies. Leather suitcases are reconfigured into a donkey titled “The Immigrant.” This juxtaposition of items and concepts – often in startling ways – is a theme Uribe weaves into his meticulously assembled sculptures. “A happy and sometimes disconcerting association of materials and ideas,” his website states, “. . . results in ironic, benevolent provocation.”
Uribe’s work, however, is not designed to promote any particular ideology; instead, he wants the imagery of his experience to resonate with viewers.
Although Uribe now lives in Miami, he remains deeply rooted in his native Columbia where he says beauty and art have immense healing potential in a country torn by more than fifty years of war. According to his artist’s statement, “the ability to turn destruction and death into peace and beauty is for Federico a way of reconciliation with life. His work and his art are the expression of an incredibly culturally rich and diverse nation striving to overcome clichés, to heal its wounds, and to look with hope into the future.”
As he wrote in “I Turn 1000s of Bullet Shells into Animal Trophies without Killing a Single Soul,” a 2015 online article, “. . . as a recurrent intention in my work, I encourage the viewer to discover, beyond the sole function of an object, an underlying symbolic and aesthetic reality where life overcomes death and beauty supplants destruction.”
Uribe’s goal is clear: “I’m more interested in making people smile, rather than telling them what to think,” he says.
“The World According to Federico Uribe,” an installation by the artist, was coordinated with assistance from Adelson Galleries, Boston, and Woodson Art Museum curator Andy McGivern.