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"I feel my body populated by memories, impressions, beliefs, fears and desires. They are imprinted deeply, almost etched. They follow me, tormenting me, or sweetening my path."

Kukuli Velarde's "Coloniality."

NORTH ADAMS — In one corner of Ferrin Contemporary's gallery, a series of squat, bulbous two-foot-high clay sculptures, arms raised toward the sky with mouths agape, stare up from the floor where they sit in a military-like formation. 

These "Isichapuitu" created by Peruvian artist Kukuli Velarde, are based on a single 16th-century Mesoamerican "vessel of death" of the same name, which she once viewed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

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"They go on the floor because I want them invading our realm. They go next to each other, because they were not created to be observed and qualified as objects. Their value lies not in my skills but in their mere existence. They exist, first for me, and then for everybody else. The 'Isichapuitu' installation is an exorcism, but it is also a farewell, and a new beginning."

Kukuli Tallada's "Tallada."

"I feel my body populated by memories, impressions, beliefs, fears and desires. They are imprinted deeply, almost etched. They follow me, tormenting me, or sweetening my path," Velarde writes in her artist statement about the vessels. "At this stage of my life I wanted to summon their presence, thank them for being, and make peace with each of them. But I didn't know how, until I saw a photograph of a Mexican statue from the Rockefeller Collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York ... The Isichapuitu installation is an exorcism, but it is also a farewell, and a new beginning."

Statue of girl carrying bananas

"Through my work I seek to generate figurative compositions that explore the boundary between the material driven, sensorial experience of an object and the psychological resonance of our involuntary dialogues with the self-referential." 

— Cristina Cordova

It is important, she says that these vessels are on the floor, as they are invading our realm. "They are different organs of a single body presented on the floor, next to each other, as a metaphor of wholeness. Because each of us, we are all sum of viscera and flesh, expectations and disappointments, memories and oblivion, generosities and pettiness."

In another corner of the gallery, located on the Massachusetts Museum of Cotemporary Arts campus, the lifelike and lifeless body of a young girl lies in the supine position, her clay knees scraped, her hair tussled. The tiles on the wall behind her are of a forest, a river perhaps. The piece, "Altar," can be seen as one who succumbed to the elements, a a sacrifice. 

Christina Cordova 'Altar'

"I am driven by the primal act of imbuing an inanimate representation with a sense of presence, transforming it into the inspired repository of our deepest longings and aspirations. My goal is to have these compositions perform both as reflections of our shared humanity as well as question socio-cultural notions of gender, race, beauty and power." 

— Cristina Cordova

"I am driven by the primal act of imbuing an inanimate representation with a sense of presence, transforming it into the inspired repository of our deepest longings and aspirations. My goal is to have these compositions perform both as reflections of our shared humanity as well as question socio-cultural notions of gender, race, beauty and power," Cristina Cordova, of Puerto Rico, who resides in North Carolina, writes in her artist statement. 

"Through my work I seek to generate figurative compositions that explore the boundary between the material driven, sensorial experience of an object and the psychological resonance of our involuntary dialogues with the self-referential." 

Cristina Cordova is a sculptor based in North Carolina. Originally from Puerto Rico, Cordova was studying engineering when she decided to quit…

The work of the Latina artists, at first blush, is as different as can be. But on another level, they are working in dialogue, having conversations about cultural identity and colonial histories, about diversity, gender, personal identities and bearing witness in a time of upheaval. 

Jennifer Huberdeau can be reached at jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6229. On Twitter: @BE_DigitalJen

Features Editor

Jennifer Huberdeau is The Eagle's features editor. Prior to The Eagle, she worked at The North Adams Transcript. She is a 2021 Rabkin Award Winner, 2020 New England First Amendment Institute Fellow and a 2010 BCBS Health Care Fellow.