Art in Translation: Construction on Congress

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Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.
Jorge Galvan’s “This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation made with mixed media.

Hey, everyone! Back again, art in tow.

Walking into Mexic-Arte Museum on Congress Avenue and Fifth Street, I was immediately intrigued by the brightly colored graphic prints and eclectic, wall-mounted sculptures straight ahead as I walked into the exhibit. The show, “Thought Cloud,” features the work of 10 Texas-based contemporary artists, all under the age of 35, each expressing their own views on the human condition in the 21st century. I was looking at a bright, pinkish-lavender screen print depicting cartoon cats when I turned around and instantly locked eyes on an industrial installation piece.

What we’re looking at is a 2-D outline of a telephone pole decaled on the wall, whose wires reach upward, dangling three light bulbs in the air. On the ground, in front of this, are snippets of the lyrics to the classic American folk song “This Land is Your Land.” Each letter of the lyrics depicted in a different medium ranging from steel to copper wires to fiberglass — all of which are common materials found at a construction site.

“This Land Was Made” is a sculptural installation by Jorge Galvan and is comprised of mixed media — that’s the official way of saying there are so many different materials that it would be tedious to list them all. But for this installation, Galvan used wire, light bulbs, various metal coils, steel, and glass, to name a few. On his info card, Galvan says his work expresses an inner struggle to not feel like an outsider in both his native Mexico and his life-long home, the United States.

The piece specifically reflects his experiences working with Project Row House, an art-based nonprofit organization in Houston’s third ward. Galvan was inspired by the juxtaposition of the inner city environment against the organization’s thriving arts scene.

This piece is a stand out because it takes all of the resources normally concealed in a finished building and creates beauty out of them. All of the mismatched parts seem to coexist and create something harmonious. Although it is not necessarily the smoothest or most refined piece, the sense of raw, unfinished exposure shows that the process of creating can be just as captivating ­­­­— in its own way — as a completed project. It’s somewhat enchanting in its imperfection.

Personally, I look at it and feel like it shows that you can find beauty in the parts of a sum, giving way for art to exist in the most unlikely of places, such as a construction site. If a building can be beautiful, why not the metallic coils that conduct its electricity? Why not the wood? Why not the cement foundation that supports it all? Why do wires have to be a tangled mess when instead they could be a wild, intertwined web of vines?

I challenge you all to find beauty in the underbelly of your lives. Where do you see it?

Until Wednesday!