Carlos Biernnay at Expressiones Cultural Center "El Proyecto del Pez" exhibition. June-July 2022.
As an artist one of the most important aspects of my practice is being in the dialogue with other artists. Doing a studio visits is an important way to connect, get to know others process, thinking and be inspired in my own work.
I arrived for my studio visit with Carlos Biernnay the current artist in residence at Experssiones, he greeted me at the door with his wonderful smile. Up the steep stairs to the apartment and studio -flooded with light and views of the New London harbor, occasional trains sounding their horns to my second encounter with his work.
Two things that caught my eye, made me curious and lead us into conversation: The materials, technique, and the sewing machines first.
The floor and walls are covered with sewn and hand stitched fabric, painted, layered with washes of paint and line drawing, handmade pieces each a work of art unto themselves; these elements are quilted together with a narrative steeped in history and his personal experiences. He incorporates hand embroidery and the wonderful sewing machines, techniques taught to him by his grandmother and mother, whom he saw “making “sewing, creating out of need when he was a young boy .
The second is the narrative. It struck me how sewing is often associated with making clothes but also how powerful this mode of expression can be in the artist hand; Iranian war rugs, the Quilts of G-bend, beaded Totems, sewn paintings , cut canvas and all the ways artists over time have use the medium of sewing.
Carlos work is deeply connected to both personal history and the history of his home country Chile as well as his experiences coming to America. As a fellow artist the technique resonates as does the narrative - the metaphors of how our life experiences although different impacts the work. We talked about many things not the least of beauty and the contrast of real life events current and past, cameras every where watching as did a government in his birth country, perceptions, and the impact of the media powerful tools of oppression and manipulation in the hands of the corrupt and how the materials show us how to “say” working with paint, drawing, and other materials with our hands , eyes and ears collaging expressions telling a story like putting words together. His pieces suggesting a dream or fairy tale narrative with deep meaning just below the surface installed wall to wall and to the floor.