Carlos Rolón: Outside In

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OUTSIDE IN KATIE A. PFOHL WITH ESSAYS BY Pablo Pérez d’Ors Theaster Gates, Jr. Lucia Olubumni Momoh María Elena Ortiz Allison K. Young

NEW ORLEANS MUSEUM OF ART

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Carlos Rolón: Outside In is published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and presented from March 16 to August 26, 2018 © 2018 New Orleans Museum of Art. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without express written permission from the New Orleans Museum of Art, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana 70124 Theaster Gates, Jr.’s essay in this volume is reprinted with permission from the Oakland University Art Gallery. The New Orleans Museum of Art, as publisher, recognizes the following copyright: all artwork by Carlos Rolón © Carlos Rolón and Dzine Studio, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89494-003-3 EXHIBITION CURATOR Katie A. Pfohl with Allison K. Young GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mary Degnan COPY EDITOR David Johnson PHOTOGRAPHY Roman Alokhin and Sesthasak Boonchai PHOTOGRAPHY EDITORS Sesthasak Boonchai and Violet Castellanos PRINTER Four Color Print Group, Inc. COVER: Carlos Rolón, Untitled Reja Pattern, 2018, Image Courtesy of the Artist P. 2 Detail of Carlos Rolón, Fragments of Utopia (Mirror Mosaic), 2018, Mirror, 24-karat gold leaf and enamel, 132 x 58 inches, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art P. 4 – 5 Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art P. 8 Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Fragments of Utopia at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Mixed media installation, Dimensions variable, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, Courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art P. 80 Detail of Carlos Rolón, Losa Criolla, 2018, Ceramic tile on aluminum panel, 105 ½ x 65 inches, New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, P. Roussel Norman Fund, 2018.9 6

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CONTENTS Director’s Foreward 9 Acknowledgments 10 OUTSIDE IN AT THE NEW ORLEANS MUSEUM OF ART Katie A. Pfohl 16

MEMORY ISLAND: PUERTO RICO IN THE WORK OF CARLOS ROLÓN Pablo Pérez d’Ors 30 LATINX ART AND THE STATELESS ARTIST María Elena Ortiz 40

WROUGHT TOGETHER: THE IRONWORKS OF NEW ORLEANS’ FRENCH QUARTER Lucia Olubumni Momoh 50 THE HARD WORK OF CARLOS ROLÓN Theaster Gates, Jr. 58

REFLECTING ON PLACE: A CONVERSATION WITH CARLOS ROLÓN Allison K. Young 70 PLATES 80 EXHIBITION CHECKLIST 106

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FORE WORD Carlos Rolón: Outside In at New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) presented new and recent work by Carlos Rolón, a Chicago-based artist of Puerto Rican heritage whose work explores vital questions surrounding aspiration, identity, immigration, and community. Rolón’s exhibition offered an exciting opportunity to invite audiences into conversation about pressing issues in contemporary culture, establish new partnerships within New Orleans’s vibrant cultural community, and challenge visitors to engage with NOMA in new ways. Highlighting the cultural and economic connections that bond New Orleans to the Caribbean and Latin America, Outside In featured works in wrought-iron and mirror that are inspired by the decorative ironwork found throughout New Orleans and Puerto Rico. Combining salvaged architectural elements with panes of mirrored glass, the artist transformed our galleries into spaces more akin to a living room or a public square than an art museum, embellished with rich materials like macramé, ceramic tile, usable benches and colorful tropical flowers and plants. Carlos’s reflections on place and community have taken on new meaning in light of the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria, which ravaged Puerto Rico in September 2017 after preparations for Outside In had already begun. We in New Orleans are all too aware of the effects that such cataclysmic events have on cities, neighborhoods, and families, and the long work of rebuilding that lies ahead. We commend our partner in this exhibition, the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, for reopening shortly after the storm and helping to rebuild the city’s cultural landscape. Our hope is that those who have seen this exhibition are moved by Carlos’s work to reach across perceived cultural divides and consider the connections the United States has not just to Puerto Rico, but to communities across the globe. We are grateful to Carlos for a thoughtful and ambitious exhibition that has begun a new and important dialogue within our museum and the broader community that will have a lasting impact on New Orleans long after the exhibition itself has ended. —Susan M. Taylor, The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director, New Orleans Museum of Art

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS As we celebrate Carlos Rolón: Outside In, our gratitude must be extended first to Carlos himself. This exhibition is a result of Carlos’s ambitious vision to produce a large body of new works that contemplate the shared histories and cultural ties between New Orleans and Puerto Rico. We at NOMA are indebted to Carlos not only for the beautiful art in the show, but also for the opportunity to celebrate the increasing presence and influence of Latinx communities in New Orleans and the United States at large. Outside In would not be possible without the generosity of the many individuals who supported the exhibition and this catalogue. We extend our utmost gratitude to The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation for supporting the production of this catalogue, which is one of the artist’s first major museum publications. We also offer our thanks to the many individuals who generously supported the exhibition, including Cari and Michael J. Sacks, Robert Chase, Eric and Cheryl McKissack, John and Amy Phelan, Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers, Peter Rogers, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Fran and Leroy Harvey, Julia and Kenneth Sacks, Jacki and Brian Schneider, Charles L. Whited, Jr., and Theaster Gates, Jr. We also wish to thank Library Street Collective, Salon 94, Pearl Lam Galleries, the Kabacoff Family Foundation, PanAmerican Life Insurance Group, and the Joan Mitchell Center for their support and partnership, and wish to especially acknowledge the work of Gia Hamilton, Director of the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Our thanks go also to the many collectors who generously loaned key works to the exhibition, including Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Ednita and Rolando Jimenez, Robert Lococo, and John and Amy Phelan. Outside In offered NOMA a unique opportunity to strengthen its relationships with arts and community organizations across the city through Carlos’s unique participatory installation, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman). Through this project, NOMA hosted a rotating program of “activations” by local artists, educators, curators, and community stakeholders over the course of the exhibition. We offer our deepest thanks to the participating organizations for bringing their work and communities into NOMA. The members of two artist collectives in the St. Claude Arts District—Good Children 10

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and The Front—responded to our request with creative proposals for activations that spoke to the nature of the arts economy, the politics of the “apology” in contemporary culture, and the uncanny magic that emanates from art objects. From Good Children, we thank Scott Andresen, Joshua Edward Bennett, Jessica Bizer, Kevin Brisco, Carrie Fonder, Leslie Friedman, Generic Art Solutions, Marta Rodriguez Malek, Aaron McNamee, Lala Rascic, and Christopher Saucedo. From The Front, we thank Kevin Baer, David Bordett, Vanessa Centano, Patrick Coll, Tom Friel, Nurhan Gokturk, Robyn Leroy-Evans, Cristina Molina, Kelly Mueller, Ruth Owens, Alex Podesta, Claire Rau, Cynthia Scott, Jamie Solock, Jonathan Traviesa, Madeline Wieand, and Ryn Wilson. Our partners AspenX, Material Life Shop, Nuestra Voz, and Puentes New Orleans played a pivotal role in bringing new audiences and perspectives into dialogue with this exhibition. We thank AspenX for organizing a wonderful workshop for teens from across the city. Our gratitude goes also to Carla Williams, owner of Material Life Shop on Bayou Road, who guest-curated a wonderful installation that featured the work of local artist Jet Costello. We also thank the organizers and members of Nuestra Voz for hosting a lively community meeting in NOMA’s gallery space, and want to particularly acknowledge Rafael Velasquez for his work in organizing a wonderful event. From Puentes New Orleans, we thank Lucia Campos, Carolina Hernandez, Kenneth Routon, and all of the members of their immigrant youth coalition, including Linda Galindo Andrade, Bryan Gomez, Geovanny Cordova Hernandez, Nahomi Gomez Salinas, and Eduardo Toro. We also thank artist Katrina Andry for her beautiful installation of paper flowers created by community members from across the city. Beyond Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), we also wish to thank our partners in community engagement and programming, including Rosana Cruz, Jonn Hankins, Yuri Herrera-Gutierrez, Darryl Reeves, and José Torres-Tama. Any curatorial undertaking this immense would not be possible without the expertise and unceasing dedication of NOMA’s phenomenal staff. Our thanks goes first to Allison K. Young, NOMA’s Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow for Modern and Contemporary Art, whose creativity, insight, and energy can be felt in all aspects of the exhibition and OUTSIDE IN

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catalogue. We have also benefited greatly from the expert curatorial guidance of Lisa Rotondo-McCord, NOMA’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs. We also thank Jennifer Ickes for leading a complex and challenging installation with incredible grace and skill, as well as Tony Garma, Matthew Hance, Tao-nha Hoang, Todd Rennie, and Will Sooter from NOMA’s installation team for helping to make our vision for this show a reality. Our gratitude goes also to Elizabeth Bahls, Laura Povinelli, and Marie-Page Phelps for their assistance in coordinating loans and permissions for the exhibition and catalogue; Sesthasak Boonchai and Roman Alokhin for photography and image editing; Mary Degnan and David Johnson for spearheading the graphic design and editing for this catalogue as well as exhibition-related content in NOMA Magazine; Allison Reid and Tracy Kennan for overseeing interpretation and audience engagement; Erin Greenwald for her inspired vision for public programming; and Jennifer Williams for her work on youth engagement. We also thank NOMA’s Museum Retail Manager Christina Lossi as well as NOMA supurb visitor experience team and security staff. We also offer our thanks to NOMA’s interns Taylor Bush, Nicole Lampl, and Sydney Wessinger for their work in organzing key aspects of the exhibition, especially the coordination of the gallery activations. We have also been supported in this project by the wonderful staff at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, and offer special thanks to the Museo’s Executive Director, Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez, as well as Associate Curator of European Art, Pablo Pérez d’Ors, who has authored an outstanding essay in this catalogue. We also thank María Elena Ortiz of the Perez Art Museum Miami, artist Theaster Gates from the University of Chicago, and NOMA’s Curatorial Fellow Lucia Momoh for their thoughtful contributions to this publication. Our gratitude goes also to NOMA intern María Beatriz Haro Carríon for her sensitive Spanish language translations of all of the wall texts and labels for the exhibition, which represent NOMA’s commitment to offering bilingual exhibition context and didactic materials. We also thank Melissa de Lourdes for editing assistance.

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In preparing for this exhibition, we have been so impressed with the hard work and dedication of Carlos’s team of studio assistants in Chicago. We wish to particularly acknowledge the brilliant work of Hector Gonzalez, who played a major role in all aspects of the exhibition, from fabricating most of the work in the exhibition to his tireless work on the installation. Our thanks go also to Chelsey Park, James Schwab, Matthew Hishorst, Ashley Williams, Violet Castellanos, Lisa Carter, Israel Baiza, Jonathan Romero, Andrew Obernesser, and Elliot Dijol for their support of Carlos’s practice and wonderful contributions to this exhibition. In New Orleans, we thank Dan Alley for his fabrication of the mirrors and several other works in the exhibition, and Clifton Faust for assisting Carlos with various aspects of exhibition research. Outside In is installed across NOMA’s Frederick R. Weisman Gallery for Louisiana Art, The Helis Foundation Gallery, and NOMA’s Great Hall. We are, as always, thankful for the generosity of Frederick and Billie Weisman as well as The Helis Foundation for their ongoing support of NOMA and of contemporary art programming across the city and region. We thank Carlos for this beautiful exhibition that emphasized and affirmed the points of connection between New Orleans and the wider world, and challenged us to strengthen our sense of community within, across and beyond New Orleans. —Susan M. Taylor and Katie A. Pfohl

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OUTSIDE IN AT THE NE W ORLEANS MUSEUM OF ART KATIE A. PFOHL Carlos Rolón is internationally recognized for paintings, sculptures, and installations that break down cultural boundaries. Working with unorthodox materials such as shattered glass, wrought-iron fences, and construction cinder blocks, Rolón takes barriers to access and transforms them into new points of entry. Speaking both to past histories of empire as well as present-day concerns regarding immigration, Rolón creates intricate constructions that connect indoors to outdoors, private to public, and local to global. Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) explored the rich connections between New Orleans, Latin America and the Caribbean, from their shared tropical landscape to the intricate wrought-iron fences— rejas in Spanish—that define the architecture of both places [Fig. 1]. A continuation of a project begun in 2016 at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Outside In combined exuberant paintings of tropical flora with mixed-media installations composed of fences and fragmented mirrors, creating spaces of connection and collectivity that brought the life of the city into the art museum [Fig. 2]. Outside In occupied three spaces across NOMA, beginning with Fragments of Utopia [P. 8], a site-specific installation in the museum’s Neoclassical entrance lobby. Mirroring the museum’s main entrance, Fragments of Utopia blurred the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space, pointing towards the cityscape beyond the museum’s walls. Intervening into the museum’s historic architecture, the installation was anchored by a thirteen-foot tall mirror mosaic filled with 24-karat gold leaf flanked by customdesigned wrought-iron and tile planters filled with real tropical flowers and plants. Upon entrance to the museum, visitors encountered their own reflections scattered amidst fragments of historical paintings and a Neoclassical architecture in the mirrored OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 1 (p. 14 – 15) Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art (March 16 –August 26, 2018), Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 2 (left) Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja II) at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Salvaged wrought iron and mirror, 45 inches (diameter), Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, Courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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work at the top of the staircase. Bringing a visitor’s own image into dialogue with the museum’s art collection, Fragments of Utopia provided a powerful place of recognition for people and perspectives often underrepresented on museum walls. In so doing, the installation reflected the many diverse histories that have come together to form the rich contemporary culture of places such as New Orleans and Puerto Rico. While living in New Orleans as an artist-in-residence at the Joan Mitchell Center (JMC) during the summer of 2017, Rolón was struck by the unexpected cultural connections between New Orleans and cities across the Caribbean and Latin America, especially those in Puerto Rico. New Orleans shares with cities such as San Juan and Ponce a culture defined by a unique admixture of Spanish, French, and West African cultural influences. These common colonial histories, as well as the forced migrations of slavery, have marked the landscape and built environments of both locales. These influences are nowhere more evident than in wrought-iron railings, or rejas, that define the urban landscapes of these cities. As Lucia Olubunmi Momoh notes in her essay in this catalogue, wrought iron represents a fusion of different cultural forms and reflects the influence of many different cultures simultaneously. Within Rolón’s practice, works such as Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja III) [Plate 5]model the dynamics of this hybrid design history by conjoining two different pieces of wrought iron—one sourced in New Orleans, one in Puerto Rico—to form a new pattern from the union of two distinct designs. In this way, Rolón’s work pays tribute to these intermingling cultural histories while also considering the lingering impact of the colonial pasts of which they are a part. Fig. 3 Detail Image of Carlos Rolón, The Gatekeepers (Puerto Rico), 2018, Mirror, resin and enamel on alumnium panel, 60 x 60 inches, Collection of Cari and Michael J. Sacks, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Across a series of works created from wrought iron, mirror, and ceramic title in NOMA’s Frederick R. Weisman Gallery for Louisiana Art [Fig. 1], Outside In explored the way cultures have commingled—and often collided—in places like New Orleans and Puerto Rico, as well as how these histories continue to make themselves felt in the present day. Prior to his time in New Orleans, Rolón had already begun a series of mirrored reja works incised with decorative patterns sourced from Puerto Rican wrought-iron rejas. As a result of his residency at the JMC, Rolón began to create a new body of work featuring patterns from New Orleans. His installation at NOMA paired works such as The Gatekeepers (New Orleans) [Plate 1], a hand-colored gold mirror etched with a pattern taken from a nineteenth-century French Quarter balcony, with The Gatekeepers (Puerto Rico) [Fig. 3], which features a pattern from a Puerto Rican reja made in the 1960s. CARLOS ROLÓN

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While the New Orleans pattern traces a much longer colonial history, the later Puerto Rican pattern speaks to America’s more recent political presence on the island. Much of the ironwork in Puerto Rico, as in New Orleans, dates to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but the form experienced a resurgence in Puerto Rico in the 1960s in the wake of a nationalist uprising against the United States. In the last fifty years, many Puerto Ricans have viewed the reja tradition as a way to assert Puerto Rican cultural identity in the face of the widespread exodus of Puerto Ricans from the island, endowing the form with new political resonance for displaced Puerto Ricans across the globe.1 Rolón’s interest in the reja form has its roots in his own personal experience growing up as a first-generation Puerto Rican immigrant in Chicago in the 1970s. Like many other families, his own left the island in search of a better life in the wake of instability resulting in part from America’s political presence. Upon migrating to the mainland United States, many Puerto Rican families (including Rolón’s) preserve their sense of connection to island culture by maintaining the tradition of ornamenting their homes with elaborate rejas, mirrors, and hand-braided macramé, modeling the decoration of their new homes after the ones they have left behind [Fig. 4].2 As Pablo Perez d’Ors notes in his essay in this volume, Puerto Rico is one among a small but growing number of countries in which more of its population lives outside of its borders than within them, meaning that Puerto Rico’s cultural traditions have had to adapt to frequent movement and migration. In Outside In, macaramé works such as Rolón’s Bochinche and Abuelita (Reflection of My Grandmother) [P. 4 – 5] spoke to the complexities of maintaining ties to one’s cultural identity in this context of constant flux.3 A form made to travel, macramé can collapse flat to fit in a suitcase, and then expand upon arrival to become a powerful signifier of home. Traditionally filled with flowers, photographs, and objects of deep personal significance, Rolón’s Abuelita contains only shards of shattered mirror that reference the displacement and separation of so many Puerto Rican families. Mirror appears throughout Rolón’s work, shattered and reassembled, placed beneath pieces of salvaged wrought iron, or incised upon with intricate decorative patterns. Across Rolón’s work—as well in the work of other contemporary artists like Pedro Lasch—mirror is a powerful tool for modeling these dislocations of culture and history, as well as the experience of immigration.4 Throughout Outside In, mirror functions to visually collapse the distance between people and cultures by interconnecting viewers to artworks, to each other, and to the surrounding space. In works such as Untitled (New Orleans Reja) [Fig. 5], 20

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Rolón literally and figuratively put his viewers on both sides of the fence, dissolving any sense of clear division between the artworks and the surrounding gallery. In Outside In, the mirrored elements in works such as Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja I and II [Fig. 2] reflected not only the viewer and the surrounding space, but also the decorative patterns embedded in other artworks throughout the exhibition. In moving through the gallery, viewers found themselves spread across multiple artworks and visually entangled within dense layers of patterns and forms. This created a shifting series of reflections that replicated Rolón’s own personal experience of feeling split between different contexts and places, and provided NOMA visitors with a small window into how it feels to belong to many diverse cultures simultaneously. For Outside In, Rolón also created a number of works in what is often misleadingly referred to as “Spanish” tile. In works such as Losa Criolla [Plate 3], Rolón explores the form and history of this global tile tradition. “Losa Criolla,” or “creole tile,” is a term used throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to reference the ornate decorative tiles that are a ubiquitous part of the urban landscape in places like New Orleans and Puerto Rico.5 Rolón’s Losa Criolla intermixes tiles from all different cultures and eras to create a dense jumble of cultures and forms that reflects the ways this tradition—and the accompanying term—has been adopted and adapted in different places across the globe. Although these tiles are typically arranged symmetrically around a central medallion, Losa Criolla contains an amalgam of tiles that lack any clear sense of pattern, organization, or structure. So doing, Rolón celebrates the way these decorative traditions have migrated across space and time, as well as their capacity for continual adaptation and transformation. At the same time, however, Losa Criolla speaks to the often dislocating effects of today’s heterogeneous global culture, showing how these overlapping, migratory art traditions also reflect, for many, the loss of any clear sense of place or context. OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 4 Carol F. Jopling, Comedor (Sitting Area) on Back Galeria of Creole Home in Humacao, Puerto Rico, 1978-9, Copyright © 1988 by The University of Tennessee Press. Reprinted by permission.

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In addition to Rolón’s works in wrought iron, tile, and mirror, Outside In also features a new body of paintings from Rolon’s Gild the Lily series [Plates 7 – 12]. Combining 24-karat gold leaf with luscious botanical imagery, these paintings reflect the beauty of the tropical landscape across the Caribbean. In a literal sense, the title “Gild the Lily” refers to the act of covering flower petals with layers of gold leaf. As an idiom, it alludes to the unnecessary embellishment of what is already perfect and beautiful. In choosing this title, Rolón references the superimposition of Spanish culture onto Puerto Rico, as it was the discovery of gold on the island that initially caused the Spanish to colonize. For Outside In, Rolón extended this series to incorporate tropical flowers from throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the region bordering the Gulf of Mexico, including flowers from New Orleans. The resultant paintings show how flowers have followed the path of Spanish colonialism to move across and between borders in much the same way as reja patterns. As María Elena Ortiz notes in her essay in this catalogue, tropical flowers were central to the Spanish colonial project, helping colonizers imagine places like Puerto Rico as lush island paradises primed for visual consumption and political exploitation. Beautiful objects for visual consumption, flowers reflected the dynamics of colonialism more generally, as explorers and botanists studied, cultivated, and exported them across the Spanish Empire. As a result, flowers once native to places such as Puerto Rico now extend beyond the borders of any one culture or nation, and have taken root in places across the United States, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.6 In Outside In, Rolón’s floral paintings were accompanied by Paraiso de la Dulzura (Jibaro Garden) [Fig. 15], an installation that pays homage to the makeshift jardinières Puerto Ricans often create using reclaimed construction cinder blocks in lieu of regular planters. Showing flowers growing up and around a material typically associated with the creation of walls, this installation—alongside the accompanying paintings—demonstrates how culture will always find ways to move around both real and imagined blockades. The impromptu nature of this installation—creating a beautiful garden from coarse construction materials—celebrates the creativity that often comes from adapting and making do. At the same time, the installation also asks us to reimagine a material often used to create barriers instead something that could instead draw us together.

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Fig. 5 Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Untitled (New Orleans Reja) at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Salvaged wrought iron and mirror, Approx. 8 x 7 ft., Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico during the planning of this exhibition and inspired Rolón to create a new body of works that address the devastation caused by the storm. In the hurricane’s immediate aftermath, Rolón created Maria [Plate 4], a 500-pound work composed entirely of shards of shattered mirror. The dense coil of shattered mirror at Maria’s core comes from the hurricane’s swirling storm pattern. Drawing an analogy between decorative patterns of design and the storm pattern of the hurricane, Rolón suggests that the idea of pattern as it exists in decoration might also be a way of visualizing broader societal patterns and forces. The storm pattern of Maria, for instance, references not only the shared decorative vocabularies of places such as New Orleans and Puerto Rico, but also the shared threat they both face as a result of climate change, which contributed to the deaths of more than 1,833 people in New Orleans in 2055, and more than 4,600 in Puerto Rico in 2017. Maria and The Gatekeepers (Puerto Rico) sit directly across from one another in the exhibition, so that the light on each work casts an opposing pattern on the floor [P. 4 – 5]. Juxtaposing a storm pattern with a reja design, Rolón suggests that we might find in our shared cultural commonalities reasons to come together to respond collectively to the urgent political and environmental issues of our time, from the current immigration crisis to the increasing occurrence of seismic weather events. One of the featured components of Outside In was Rolón’s Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) [Fig. 6], an interactive installation inspired by the street vendors found in international cities such as New Orleans, San Juan, and Chicago. Reflecting on themes surrounding class, commerce, immigration, and survival, Rolón created the cart to serve as a platform for community dialogue, gathering, and the exchange of both goods and ideas. As Theaster Gates describes in his essay in the catalogue, Rolón invites different community partners to “activate” the cart with their own art installations, performances or community programs. As part of Outside In, NOMA invited a series of local artists, community organizations and small business owners in New Orleans to create a dynamic series of projects and performances that unfolded over the course of the five-month run of the exhibition. Partners in this initiative included Nuestra Voz, AspenX New Orleans, Good Children Gallery, artist Katrina Andry, The Front Gallery, Puentes New Orleans, and Material Life Shop. These activations took many diverse forms, ranging from performances, tarot card readings and community meetings to participatory installations by local art collectives and theatrical performances. 24

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The resultant projects addressed issues ranging from the current immigration crisis to the nature of the arts economy in New Orleans, and provided an opportunity for people across the community—including NOMA’s own audiences—to make their voices and perspectives heard at the museum. Artists from The Front, an artist-run exhibition space on St. Claude Avenue, created an installation and performance series titled You Want a Piece of Me (shown above), which filled the cart with artworks that were offered to museum visitors in exchange for their own personal effects or stories. Artists Kevin Brisco And Marta Rodiguez Malek of Good Children Gallery created a project called Take an Apology, Leave an Apology, which examined the weight and currency of apologies in contemporary culture. They filled the cart with apology letters ranging from personal letters of atonement written by the artists’ friends and families, to notes penned by local elementary and middle school students, and public statements issued by well-known politicians and celebrities. OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 6 The Front, “You Want a Piece of Me,” May 29 – July 2, Installation on Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), 2015, Mixed media, dimensions variable, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fig. 7 Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Bochinche at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Repurposed wood, wrought iron, porcelain tile, vegetation, shell macramés and Thassos marble benches, Dimensions variable, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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NOMA received over seven hundred handwritten letters of apology over the course of a single week from visitors who were invited to take an apology letter from the cart and write their own to leave in exchange. In another activation, students from Puentes, a local immigrant youth coalition, filled the cart with handmade botanica candles and personal objects of significance that spoke to their experiences as Latinx immigrants in New Orleans. Carla Williams, founder of Material Life Shop in New Orleans, also guest-curated an installation of objects that reflected on the idea of home from the perspective of African diasporic communities in New Orleans. Organizations such as Nuestra Voz, a Latinx advocacy and outreach organization in New Orleans, led lively community meetings in NOMA’s gallery space, and José Torres-Tama staged several performances of his critically acclaimed Taco Truck Theater on the lawn in front of the museum. Outside In transformed NOMA’s galleries into a platform for community dialogue and debate, bringing new voices and perspectives into conversation with Rolón’s exhibition as well as with the museum itself. Rolón’s unique investigations into popular culture, craft, and art history filled the galleries with a constantly shifting series of perspectives and points of view [Fig. 7], and spoke to the complexities of identity, integration, and aspiration in immigrant and diasporic communities across the globe. At a time of escalating political conflict in which immigrant communities in cities across the United States—including New Orleans—are coming under increasing threat, Outside In highlighted the historical connections that tie New Orleans to a broader global context, challenging us to break down barriers, embrace community and work towards mutual understanding. 1.

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4. 5.

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See Jose Trias Monge, Puerto Rico: The Trials of the Oldest Colony in the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997) and Nelson A. Denis, War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony (New York: Nation Books, 2016). See Carol F. Jopling, Puerto Rican Houses in Sociohistorical Perspective (Knoxville: The University of Tenessee Press, 1988) for extensive research and documentation about Puerto Rican design traditions. Rolón is one among a number of contemporary artists who address the complexities of home for immigrant and diasporic Latinx communities, and his work joins that of Doris Salcedo, Gabriel de la Mora, and Amalia Mesa-Bains, among others in speaking to these ideas. See Chon A. Noriega, Mari Carmen Ramirez and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Home—So Different, So Appealing (Los Angeles: UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press, 2017). See Pedro Lasch, Black Mirror/Espejo Negro (Raleigh-Durham: Duke University Press, 2010). Originally introduced to the region by the Spanish, the form actually originated in North Africa and the Middle East. The form quickly spread through Europe in the wake of the Umayyad conquest of the 7th century. The Spanish carried these tiles to the New World, where they were appropriated and adapted by cultures across Latin America and the Caribbean, including New Orleans. Daniela Bleichmar’s recent book offers a detailed discussion of the role that botany and flowers played in the Spanish colonial project. See Daniela Bleichmar, Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

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MEMORY ISLAND: PUERTO RICO IN THE WORK OF CARLOS ROLÓN PABLO PÉREZ D’ORS To be Puerto Rican in the mainland U.S. is to experience dissonance between two competing homelands, to be torn between allegiance to the culture one is born into and the country to which one ostensibly belongs. The personal experience of Carlos Rolón as a first-generation immigrant is shared with other artists of the Puerto Rican diaspora and is entangled with Puerto Rico’s ambiguous relation to the United States.1 Despite carrying U.S. passports and serving in the military, Puerto Ricans do not have full citizenship since they cannot elect federal representatives nor vote in presidential elections—but they can freely move to the mainland and enjoy the same rights as any American there. These tensions underpin Rolón’s art as well as the work of Puerto Rican artists currently working on the island, and formed the basis of his exhibition Tropicaliza at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico in 2016 [Figs. 8 – 9]. Rolón is part of a great and time-honored multidisciplinary tradition in Puerto Rican culture that considers the complex and constantly shifting nature of cultural identity through the experience of leaving the island, seeing it from a distance, and then returning. This approach is present, for instance, in famous songs such as Lamento borincano (1929) by Rafael Hernández Marín and Residente’s Hijos del cañaveral (2017), and also encompasses literary and visual works by artists and writers such as René Marqués, Luis Rafael Sánchez, and Antonio Martorell. Puerto Ricans cling to their cultural identities in the face of constant change, which has facilitated the creation of strong Puerto Rican subcultures in cities throughout United States.2

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Fig. 8 (p. 28 – 29) Installation image from Tropicalizia at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (September 2016 to February 2017), Photography by Raquel Perez-Puig, Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico Fig.9 (left) Installation image from Tropicalizia at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2016, Photography by Raquel Perez-Puig, Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

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Fig. 10 Carlos Rolón, Wrought-Iron Gate in Salinas, Puerto Rico, 2018, Image Courtesy of the Artist

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Historically, to become Puerto Rican it was necessary for newcomers to the island— including involuntary ones, enslaved Africans—to sever ties to their former homelands. It often took several generations to accomplish this transition. Traces of these past lineages can still be found, however, in the distinctive Afro-Caribbean cuisine of Loíza, the bomba dance in Ponce Playa, and the syncretic beliefs and practices of santería. On the other hand, the transformation of cultural identity can also happen quickly; Lorenzo Homar (1913 – 2004), a pivotal artist in the creation of a Puerto Rican national style, was the son of Catalan-speaking immigrants from the Spanish island of Majorca. Since 1898, when Puerto Rico became a United States territory, it is by remembering rather than forgetting that Puerto Ricans have passionately sustained their culture, both on the island and especially in the mainland United States. CARLOS ROLÓN

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Growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, Carlos Rolón first experienced Puerto Rico as a memory rather than a physical place, like many of his generation and increasing numbers of Puerto Ricans afterwards. According to the United States population census from 2010, 4.9 million people living in the contiguous United States identified as Puerto Rican, a conspicuously greater number than the island’s current population of 3.7 million.3 This is the result of a slow trickle—working men and women first, then their reluctant parents—which has accelerated steeply in recent times; as many as 200,000 people reportedly left the island in 2017 alone, in the aftermath of Hurricane María’s devastation [Fig. 10]. As a result, Puerto Rico now exists more in the realm of imagination or memory than as a real place for many Puerto Ricans. For the most part, recent migrants to the United States join relatives in communities that have clung to their cultural identity for decades. Once they arrive in the United States, familiar sights and tunes, tastes and smells, decorations and patterns, take on new meanings as memory makers and identity markers. Rolón’s art reflects on the significance of these personal and communal acts of remembering. His work highlights the ways these aide-memoires travel, shift, and transform in response to new environments and influences. In Puerto Rico, decorative wrought-iron rejas are simply a relatively cheap and easy way for families to add a little flair and individuality to the otherwise identical shoebox dwellings to be found on much of the island. American architect Edward Durell Stone responded to this tradition by incorporating similar grille designs that add local character to his 1965 design for the Museo de Arte de Ponce [Fig. 11]. Similarly, many Puerto Ricans decorate their homes with a profusion of mirrors, vibrantly painted walls, patterned concrete tiles, and hanging planters, which add a sense of modernity to the interiors. Growing up in the United States, Rolón was part of a community of Puerto Ricans that maintained these traditions after migrating, decorating their American dwellings in similar ways. OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 11 Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, designed by Edward Durell Stone, 1965, Image courtest of Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

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Often, families would transplant these decorative elements from their former homes on the island as part of a conscious effort to maintain ties to the life they left behind. Puerto Rican families do not always carry this cultural baggage without reservations, or at least some negotiation. Rolón’s parents, like many others, decided to speak mostly in English at home, prioritizing their children’s integration and access to better opportunities over the transmission of an important part of their cultural heritage. This denial, in turn, led the artist in an individual quest for his roots through reading when he was in his early teens. Children’s books about Puerto Rican history and culture were first published in the 1950s as part of a titanic government-sponsored effort to promote local identity, and have never been out of print. Rolón particularly relished the stories of the first contacts between the Spanish conquistadores and the native Taíno population. He created vivid mental images of the amiable savages living in a pristine natural environment, and its later spoliation by gold-hungry invaders, which have stayed with him ever since.

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The early colonization stories read by the young artist contain a comforting moral distinction that encourages the reader to identify with the Taíno people as the original Puerto Ricans, and therefore privileges identity-making over messy historical reality (most of the island’s present day population is descended from Spanish settlers). These formative readings helped inspire Rolón’s lush flower paintings, which depict tropical vegetation in crisp detail against gleaming backgrounds made of gold leaf [Fig. 12]. For Rolón, gold suggests sacred and otherworldly opulence while also alluding to a history of colonization and theft. The narratives of a paradise defiled and colonized by an irresistible foreign force continue to resonate powerfully with the cultural anxieties of Puerto Ricans today, and have perhaps never been more powerful as the distinction between us and them becomes ever blurrier, especially in the case of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States. In this light, the gold background flower paintings with gold backgrounds can be seen as a beautiful homage to a story that helped the artist understand his relationship to Puerto Rican identity.

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Fig. 12 Installation image from Tropicalizia at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2016, Photography by Raquel Perez-Puig, Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

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Rolón’s art also reflects on the complex role material culture plays in the process of assimilation, as people hold onto their Puerto Ricaness while at the same time adapting to a new environment. The artist lives between two alternative homelands, and this tension lurks constantly beneath the surface of his art. In the 2016 exhibition Tropicalizia at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, the setting in Rolón’s old country highlighted the unique mixture of irony and nostalgia that pervades his work in wrought iron and mirror [Fig. 13]. The exhibition reflected the cumulative effect of many different cultural idioms at once, showing how a certain distance is needed to observe, appropriate, and refashion the symbols of one’s identity. Outside In highlighted Rolón’s compelling use of a variety of traditional and nontraditional media, ranging from paintings in oil and acrylic to installations using mirrors, enamel, glass, and ceramic tile benches [Fig. 14]. The works in the exhibition reflected on memory, cultural identity, and personal history, and the role material culture plays in creating and sustaining our sense of culture and belonging. Rolón’s work speaks volumes about the experiences of several generations of Puerto Ricans, as well as a contemporary culture in which questions of identity and immigration loom large. His art is a point of access to what it means to be part of a current global reality in which so many are exiled and displaced. Turning art into a tool for navigating history as well as our contemporary political landscape, his art speaks to growing numbers of displaced peoples throughout the world. 1.

2.

3.

On art in the Puerto Rican diaspora, see Susana Torruella Leval, “Puerto Rican Artists in the USA: Solidarity, Resistence, Identity,” in Puerto Rico: Arte e Identidad (San Juan: Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1998), pp. 403-415. See Catherine Marsh Kennerley, Negociaciones culturales: los intelectuales y el proyecto pedagógico del estado muñocista (San Juan: Ediciones Callejon,2009). http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispanics-of-puerto-rican-origin-in-the-united-states-2011/ (consulted 18 January 2018); https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/charts-puerto-rico-shrinking_us_56f6db62e4b0a372181a21b0 (consulted 18 January 2018)

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Fig. 13 (left) Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Untitled (Ponce Reja) at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2016, Salvaged wrought iron and mirror, 60 x 30 inches, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Raquel Perez-Puig Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico Fig. 14 (above) Carlos Rolón, Untitled (Ceramic Tile Bench), 2016, Puerto Rican ceramic tiles and concrete, 18 x 17 5/8 inches, Collection of the Museo de Arte de Ponce, The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Gift of the Artist, 2017.2641.1

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LATINX ART AND THE STATELESS ARTIST MARÍA ELENA ORTIZ Carlos Rolón’s multilayered practice investigates beauty, urban culture, and craft, [Figs. 15 and 16] resulting in installations that offer a conception of identity unrooted to any specific locale. Navigating multiple cultures at once, Rolón’s art speaks to Urayoán Noel’s notion of the “stateless poet.” Noel, a poet, performer, and professor from Puerto Rico who lives in New York, uses the term stateless to illustrate his “flux between island and mainland, and between textual forms (print, body, web). Of course, it also alludes to the ultimate ‘statelessness’ of identity, and to a poetics of unstatement by turns deterriotorialized and (dys/ut/opian) in its damaged/unmanageable bodies.”1 Noel’s art imagines a form of cultural identity unbounded by territorial or national delimitations. His poetry is located in a trans-American, cross-continental corpus informed by multiple aesthetic impulses.2 Like Rolón, Noel embraces the dynamics of diasporic experiences, along with the plurality of having cultural ties to Puerto Rico and the United States. Breaking away from a homogeneous conception of self, the condition of being stateless, as a positive and transformative experience, can become a significant concept when examining the work of artists such as Rolón, as well as the broader community of artists of Latin heritage working in the United States.

Fig. 15 (p. 38 – 39) Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 16 (left) Detail of Carlos Rolón, Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence III), 2016, Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 72 x 54 inches, Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

Within the past two years, there has been a strong interest among curators and scholars in moving past simplistic notions of cultural identity and locating the practices of Latino artists in the United States beyond singular categories such as “Chicano” or “Puerto Rican.” At the same time, there has been little consensus on how to describe and incorporate these more expansive, nuanced narratives into American art histories. In 2016, artist Teresita Fernández teamed up with the Ford Foundation to create a convening in New York entitled United States Latinx Art Forum—a timely event that questioned the lack OUTSIDE IN

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of Latino representation (artists and professionals) in American institutions.3 This oneday symposium promoted the term “Latinx” as a strategy and comprehensive approach to refer to the work of artists of Latin heritage in contrast with the term Latin American or Latino.4 The word Latinx has been widely contested in Latino circuits, with both supporters and detractors. For Fernández, it originated as a non-gender strategy that moves past the masculine connotations of the Spanish word Latino, while at the same time offering a more transnational sense of cultural identity. The following year, in 2017, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA opened in Southern California as a major, multi-venue exhibition celebrating Latin American and Latinx art in the West Coast.5 Several colleagues pointed how this project was an exceptional effort to further understand art and history from Latin America, but it also showed that these methods of categorization needed more research and critical attention. This new focus on redefining these categories is responding both to the changing demographics of the United States as well as the increased attention on Latin American and Latinx practices in the contemporary art world. The United States is in the midst of a significant demographic shift in which the Latinx population has become the biggest minority in the country, projected to become twenty-nine percent of the population by 2050.6 In the past two decades, the increased institutional recognition and gathering strength of the Latinx and Latin American contemporary art community has also resulted in serious and sustained conversations about how to define these artists and their practices. In a 2017 article, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, who co-curated with Andrea Giunta one of the exhibitions part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 19601985,” commented, “If you are a Latinx artist, even when you are an ‘American’ citizen you exist in an exclusionary void. The art system pretty much replicates the exclusionary racist power structures of the government, and there is a lack of dialogue in the academic and curatorial arenas between Latinx and Latin American art.”7 There remains no agreement on terminology, but there is a collective assertion that there needs to be a better way of understanding artistic production from the Latinx community in the United States. In an attempt to better describe Latinx art practices in the United States, the notion of the “stateless artist,” could be significant as an alternative way of expressing nationally flexible and territorially unfixed identities that celebrate and acknowledge the artist’s relationship to multiple histories. For several years, Rolón has been working with highly decorated, wrought-iron fences (rejas), and mirrors, ceramic tiles and floral imagery from 42

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Puerto Rico, Miami, New Orleans, and other parts of the Caribbean and the United States [Fig. 17]. These works engage his personal connections to his family’s memories of Puerto Rico, referencing the wrought-iron fences, ceramic tiles and the mirrors used to decorate their homes in Chicago. Mirrors have a special connection to the artist’s upbringing in Chicago, as his family used them to adorn his childhood home, and his work in mirror shows how the Puerto Rican community exists between cultures. Rolón takes advantage of the reflective qualities of the mirror to imagine a fluid conception of cultural identity. His mirror works create a splintered image of viewers portrayed in a ludic and poetic approach, as people find themselves on both sides of the fence without a fixed representation of the self. Viewers are invited to appreciate their reflection on the painting, and to see their reflection fragmented by the facets of the wrought-iron fence pattern. Illuminating the significance that these wrought-iron fences have in Latinx culture, this work is also a potent metaphor for the “stateless artist.” Mirrors have also become a powerful tool for a number of artists in the Latin American and Latinx community such as Edra Soto and William Cordova. OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 17 Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fig. 18 Detail of Carlos Rolón, Paraiso de la Dulzura (Jibaro Garden) at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2016, Cinder block, silk flowers and artificial soil, Dimensions variable, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Raquel Perez Puig, Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

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Rolón’s negotiation of the idea of “statelessness” is particularly nuanced due to the complex relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico—an island that remains stateless within the United States government system, and which many argue is still an American colony. Rolón addresses this in his work, in part, by pointing out the connections between the history of colonization of the island and its present relationship to the United States. In his floral paintings and cinder block installations [Figs. 18 and 19] at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in 2016 and the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2018, he mimics the conditions of colonialism by creating an exuberant garden-like environment for visual consumption. In his macramé works, he likewise shows the complexities of colonization and migration in contemporary culture. Hanging from the ceiling, these suspended sculptures are composed of silk plants, beads, and thread. Made using a technique called macramé—a weaving method first seen in the Middle East in the thirteenth century that was brought to Puerto Rico during Spanish colonization—these works speak to the way that cultural traditions migrate across cultures. Some of the Spaniards who migrated to the New World had Islamic origins, and many parts of that community settled in San Juan. Rolón, who also has a great interest in exploring craft in his practice, grew up knowing macramé, which is today CARLOS ROLÓN

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Fig. 19 Detail of Carlos Rolรณn, Paraiso de la Dulzura (Jibaro Garden) at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Cinder block, ceramic tile and silk flowers, Dimensions variable, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fig. 20 Detail of Carlos Rolรณn, Untitled (Ponce Reja), 2016 at the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2016, Salvaged wrought iron and mirror, 60 x 30 inches, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Raquel Perez Puig, Image courtesy of the Artist, Salon 94 and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico

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recognized and sold as a contemporary craft on the island. In macramé works such as Bochinche [Fig. 7], he merges art, craft, and design to create art that pays homage to his Puerto Rican background while also exposing how contemporary Puerto Rican traditions are part of a longer history of colonization and migration that involves many ethnic groups. When describing Latinx art practices in the United States, it is important to acknowledge that identity does not have to be a fixed state, and it can be interpreted as a continuous, fluid process. In Latinx communities, this quality becomes more apparent as individuals have strong associations to different cultures, including their nation of origin and their current place of residence. In Rolón’s practice, one can appreciate his negotiations with both American and Puerto Rican cultures. His celebratory approach embraces beauty, but at the same time speaks to broader political concerns. Within his practice, the concept of “statelessness” is a tool to understand his complex negotiation of cultural identity, and also to define his practice alongside those of other artists from Latinx communities in the United States. 1.

2. 3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Emily A. Maguire. “The Shuffle of the City Finally Becomes Us: The Corporality of Place in the Poetry of Urayoán Noel. ASAP/ Journal, Volume 2, Number 1, January 2017, pp. 161-181. Ibid. I participated in this event, which occurred in September 2016 at the Ford Foundation in New York. Catalina (Kathleen) M. deOnís. “What’s in a “x”?: An Exchange about the Politics of “Latinx,” Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2017, pp.78-91.

Fig. 21 Carlos Rolón, Wrought Iron Gate in Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2018, Image courtesy of the Artist

It is important to consider that this exhibition was the first strong effort to speak about Latin American and Latino art practices in California—a state that has the largest populations of Latinos in the United States, with 32.3 percent identified as Latino. Daniel Martinez HoSang, Oneka LaBennett, Laura Pulido, editors, “Race, Racialization, and Latino Populations in the United States by Tomás Almaguer,” in Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), p. 147 Magalí Arriola. “South-South,” Frieze Magazine. Issue 189, September 2017.

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WROUGHT TOGETHER: THE IRONWORKS OF NE W ORLEANS’ FRENCH QUARTER LUCIA OLUBUNMI MOMOH During his time in New Orleans, Carlos Rolón was struck by New Orleans’s and Puerto Rico’s shared tradition of ornamenting their buildings with elaborate decorative ironworks, or rejas in Spanish. Composed of ornate patterns that reflect European, West African, and Caribbean cultural influences, these architectural elements speak to the cultural networks that link places across Latin America, the Caribbean, and the American South [Fig. 23]. In New Orleans, the French Quarter’s historic architecture reveals elements of Louisiana’s “Creole” identity. Many different cultures come together in New Orleans ironwork, which reflects the peoples of Indigenous, French, Senegambian, Spanish, Haitian, Kongo, Yoruba, Irish, British, and German descent that have called New Orleans home.1 In New Orleans, many buildings feature decorative wrought ironwork that manifest this multicultural heritage. For instance, should you walk along Governor Nicholls Street in the French Quarter you will eventually pass the beautiful balcony of the so-called Casa Correjolles. Commissioned by Haitian refugee Gabriel Correjolles in 1834, the building’s grillwork reflects European, African, and Caribbean cultural influences.2 Juxtaposing stark geometric forms with delicate, more organic swirls, the wrought iron railing wraps around the building’s terrace. Two overlapping hearts enclosed in a circle form its central motif and a diamond forms where the hearts’ tails meet. In European tradition, these central shapes symbolize marriage, visualizing the eternal union of two souls. However, others have traced elements of this design to West African symbology. Some have read the Adinkra dwennimmen, or ram’s horns, which indicates strength and humility, in the swirls surrounding the central motif.3 The Kongolese cosmogram, which denotes the OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 22 (p. 47 – 48) Installation image from Dzine: Born, Carlos Rolón, 1970 at Salon 94, New York (January 2014), Photography by Jeff Elstone, Image courtesy of the Artist and Salon 94 Fig. 23 (left) Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Kongo spiritual worldview and belief in the indestructability of one’s soul, can also be read in the diamond formed by the overlapping hearts and the four small spheres surrounding them.4

Fig. 24 Carlos Rolón, Wrought Iron Gate in Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2018, Image courtesy of the Artist

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For many years, scholars did not recognize or acknowledge the role that enslaved African blacksmiths played in the creation of New Orleans ironworks.5 Historians even contended that these ornate balconies, gates, and doors were not even made in New Orleans, but were imported from Spain.6 In more recent years, African American scholars such as John Michael Vlach and Marcus Christian have shed light on the role West African blacksmiths played in the creation process.7 In New Orleans, wrought-iron lattices were nearly exclusively forged by enslaved and free African blacksmiths until the 1830s.8 African artisans often had significant control over the final design and finish of their work, since wrought-iron metalworking requires craftsmen to hammer each decorative element by hand.9 This has prompted some architectural historians to contend that West African metalworkers possessed significant control over designs. Some even speculate that these artisans fused West African symbols into their designs, concealing transcripts of resistance and spirituality into their work.10 While these connections are extremely difficult to prove, railings such as Correjolles’ suggest that the role of African metalworkers in both the creation and design of these wrought-iron decorative elements has been widely underestimated. In this way, the patterns Rolón employs in his art—both from Puerto Rico and from New Orleans—are emblems of the Creole world [Figs. 24, 25 and 26]. Hidden in plain sight, they represent the literal forging together of European and West African aesthetics. The designs reflect Caribbean scholar Edouard Glissant’s theorization of “creolization” as a process through which a community becomes “both deeply unified and truly diversified.”11 Far from a harmonious blending of different cultural forms, these ironworks also speak to a history full of cultural clashes and racial tensions. However, out of even the most tumultuous of times across the Atlantic and the Caribbean, Creole cultures formed and beauty materialized. In works such as Untitled (Hybrid Wrought CARLOS ROLÓN

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Fig. 25 Detail of Carlos Rolรณn, The Gatekeepers (New Orleans) at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Handmade gold mirror with enamel on aluminum panel, 60 x 60 inches, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fig. 26 Carlos Rolรณn, Wrought Iron Gate in Salinas, Puerto Rico, 2018, Image courtesy of the Artist

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Iron Rejas I and II) [Fig. 23], Rolón visualized this fraught history by fusing together two contrasting, yet complementary, semi-circular wrought-iron patterns. While the patterns do not perfectly align, they bring two parts together to form a single whole. In this way, they are emblematic of the network of cross-cultural exchanges by which places like Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and Haiti are connected but never seamlessly aligned. 1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6. 7.

8.

9.

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11.

The definition of the term Creole has been widely disputed by New Orleans residents and academic scholars. The term, which is used variously throughout the Americas, is often erroneously used solely in reference to New Orleans’ interracial population. However, the term Creole applied to anyone who was born in Louisiana during the French, or Spanish colonial periods, regardless of race, ethnicity or cultural background. For more on the construction of Creole identity in New Orleans, see Rien Fertel, Imagining the Creole City the Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014). For more in how creole has been discussed by contemporary scholars, see Edouard Glissant, “Creolization in the Making of the Americas.” Caribbean Quarterly 54, no. 1/2 (2008), 81-89. See Stanley Clisby Arthur, Old New Orleans; a History of the Vieux Carré, Its Ancient and Historical Buildings (New Orleans, Harmanson, 1936), 99, and Jim Fraiser, The French Quarter of New Orleans (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003), 124. Eva Regina Martin (1995), “Forging from Sun-up to Sun-down: African Symbols in the Works of Black Ironworkers in New Orleans (1800-1863)” Ph.D., Temple University, 14-23. Typically drawn as a cruciform, or cross, enclosed in a circle, the Kongolese cosmogram visualizes the cycles of life and reincarnation, while also denoting the indestructibility of the soul. The form of the cosmogram can be easily mistaken for a Christian crucifix, and was often adopted by Africans throughout the Americas who could disguise it within more outwardly European style designs. Kongolese symbology heavily influenced Voodou culture in New Orleans, as well as many other African diasporic societies. For more on the Kongolese cosmogram and ideology, see Robert Farris Thompson, Flash of the Spirit (New York: Random House, 1983), 103-158; and Kimbwandènde Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, African cosmology of the Bântu-Kôngo: tying the spiritual knot : principles of life & living (Brooklyn: Athelia Henrietta Press, 2001). This theory was originally presented by Louisiana historian Stanley Clisby Arthur in 1936. Arthur stated, “It now appears that [wrought-iron balconies] were the work of neither slave nor pirate, nor were they made here [in Louisiana]. These wrought-iron decorations, imported from Southern Spain and freighted over the ocean from Cadiz, were probably the output of some herreria in the vicinity of Seville.” However, scholar Marcus Christian debunked this theory in a monograph published in 1972 in which he cited arrival letters were written by French colonists asking the crown to send blacksmiths to train the enslaved African men as well as local census records that indicated that the majority of blacksmiths in New Orleans were of African descent until the late 1930s. See Stanley Clisby Arthur, Old New Orleans; a History of the Vieux Carré, Its Ancient and Historical Buildings, 14 and Marcus Bruce Christian, Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana: 1718-1900, 10-31. Eva Regina Martin (1995), “Forging from Sun-up to Sun-down,” 11-12. See John Michael Vlach, By the Work of Their Hands: Studies in Afro-American Folklife (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991) and Marcus Bruce Christian, Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana: 1718-1900. This was first successfully proven by African American historian Marcus Bruce Christian in 1972 in response to Stanley Clisby Arthur’s theory, which had been accepted for decades, and was based on the notion that Louisiana did not contain iron deposits. Christian proved that not only did Louisiana have plentiful iron deposits, but from the establishment of New Orleans, French colonists began training enslaved African’s how to weld as the Europeans did. This led to a near monopoly on the blacksmithing market by African men until the 1830s, when German and Irish immigrants and the rise of cast (rather than wrought) iron pushed out enslaved and free African artisans. For more information see: Marcus Bruce Christian, Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 (Gretna: Pelican Pub., 2002). Most ironwork welded in New Orleans during colonial era was wrought iron, shaped by hand. Cast iron, created by pouring iron into a pre-made mold, did not predominate until the early twentieth century. See Marcus Bruce Christian, Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana: 1718-1900 (Gretna: Pelican Pub., 2002), 10-31. This theory is most often explored by non-academics, but some graduate theses and dissertations have explored this phenomenon as well. See Morgan Randall, “The Storytelling Ironwork of New Orleans,” Atlas Obscura, Aug. 24, 2017, and Eva Regina Martin (1995), “Forging from Sun-up to Sun-down: African Symbols in the Works of Black Ironworkers in New Orleans (1800-1863)” Ph.D., Temple University. Edouard Glissant, “Creolization in the Making of the Americas,” Caribbean Quarterly 54, no. 1-2 (March-June 2008); 81-89.

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THE HARD WORK OF CARLOS ROLÓN THEASTER GATES, JR. Creating the cart was a challenge and an inspiration. It was pivotal that it keep the language of my studio practice and also be functional in the real world. ­ — Carlos Rolón I knew his work because he was ahead of us. He knew he was an artist when we were still just doing poetry as part of the Milwaukee Avenue, old-school poetry scene. Carlos Rolón, or rather Dzine, as he was known on the street, was making it shine already, with big projects and lots of glitter and confidence. We looked up to him because Carlos was living a life we didn’t know at all. From the outside, it was a life of possibility and smiles, but he was never brazen about it—he was ahead of us. He has always been known for his ambition and work, but it feels like the ambition of 1997 is very different from the work he is creating now. When Carlos was a young maker, the notoriety and presence of the market meant something that should be pounced on: seize the moment, ride the wave, etc. He continues to be an inspiration, and through his engagement with the Arts + Public Life Program at the University of Chicago, he has shown his commitment to practices that straddle the possibility for a more complicated engagement with urbanism, economy, and form. Carlos originally created Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) for the Chicago Architecture Biennial in association with the Arts + Public Life Program at the University of Chicago [Figs. 29, 30 and 31]. Over the past several years, under the innovative and caring leadership of Tempest Hazel at the Arts + Public Life Program, and through that organization’s residencies, public programs, and exhibitions, Carlos has worked OUTSIDE IN

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Fig. 27 (p. 56 – 57) Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 28 (left) Installation image of Carlos Rolón Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) in Commonwealth at the Oakland University Art Gallery, 2016, Photography by Nathan Keay, Image courtesy of the Artist and Oakland University Art Gallery, Michigan

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with artists who share a deep engagement with Chicago’s South Side, bringing the neighborhood’s cultural richness to the fore. Through direct engagement and participatory acts, combined with time alone in the studio, artists are able to be present on the South Side and engage its Washington Park community in ways that town hall meetings and community check-ins simply cannot. For this project, Carlos began working with a brother known locally as Hustleman [Fig. 29]. Garland Gantt is a Washington Park resident recognized for his generous and affordable mobile market that sells everything from fresh fruits and vegetables outside train stops, to purses, jewelry, and other things that speak to the hearts of the consuming passersby. Hustleman: he hustles and becomes patron saint to the possibilities within black space. The hustle is that energy to start things when there is nothing available to you, to sell aggressively and push forward an orange, a banana, a fruit basket, a cigarette, anything that might allow for the hustler to make ends meet. As Carlos and I talked more, it became evident that when one is sometimes forced to hustle, the energy of hustling has the potential to go in a bad way. Hustling can quickly move from innovation to incarceration. So there are times when we all must pause from the game and ask bigger questions about what matters. The pause also allows for space to ask about the aesthetics of hustle. Who has the ability to move the hustle from a purely economic imperative to one that is concerned with affect, flavor, style, charm, all adding to the possibility of the passerby not being moved purely by appetite, but also by poetry? This is where Carlos’s clarity of poetic form meets the everyday possibilities inherent in black space. Carlos met Hustleman; they talked plans and ambitions and function, sharing sketches back and forth and texting each other about what the cart should feel like and look like. They became comrades in the possibility of hustle, giving new power to all things left behind, dismembered, broken down. The artist, who has always looked at the everyday through nail salons and afro picks, through fences that mark Moorish presence in Old San Juan, to forts built by the Spanish that predate the two flats on Spanish-speaking streets, has found poetry on the South Side and all of sudden, the word hustle shifts its connotation and Hustleman, the lowly street seller of ripened fruit, is finally lauded for being the high priest of 55th Street. 60

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Fig. 29 Carlos Rolรณn, Garland Gantt performing with Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) in Forms of Imagination at the Arts+ Public Life Program at the University of Chicago, 2015, Photography by Sara Pooley, Image courtesy of the Artist and the Arts+ Public Life Program at the University of Chicago

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Fig. 30 Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) in Forms of Imagination at the Arts + Public Life Program at the University of Chicago, 2015, Photography by Sara Pooley, Image Courtesy of the Artist and the Arts + Public Life Program at the University of Chicago

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I have learned that hustling requires insider knowledge and that it is a world inside of worlds that not everyone on the outside understands. It is this inner world of action and action-ing—of manifesting energy to get something started—that allows for dignity in the absence of opportunity and beauty in the face of adversity and value when all those from outside say there is none. Hustleman is my patron saint, and Carlos, the willing worker, builder, friend, and listener who can see a real seer. Carlos helps us see. The cart, the relationship, the shifting of commerce from the street to the Arts Incubator exhibition space, to the Chicago Cultural

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Center, to Oakland University, to the New Orleans Museum of Art [Figs. 32 – 35], all demonstrating that there is possibility in them streets. Hustleman, like Rick Ross, knows that it is the everyday walk that makes the accumulated hustle part of what Antonio Negri would offer as the beautiful. A collective liberation, a total work of art, and an allday hustle is what leads to an exceedingly abundant life. Carlos brings us to attention and focus—a lightning rod to the true art in this cruel world. Channeling ordinary materials into intricate constructions, he seeks hope and abundance in overlooked cultures, in the carts, the nail salons, in the everyday hustle. I pray that he finds it.

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Fig. 31 Installation image of Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) in Forms of Imagination at the Arts + Public Life Program at the University of Chicago, 2015, Image Courtesy of the Artist

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Fig. 32 Katrina Andry’s Workshop for “The Flower Cart,” at the New Orleans Museum of Art, May 12, 2018, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 33 Carlos Rolón’s Workshop with Puentes at the New Orleans Museum of Art, March 22, 2018, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, Courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 34 (p. 65) Kevin Brisco and Marta Rodriguez Malek of Good Children Gallery installing Take an Apology/Leave an Apology, April 3 – 8, Installation for Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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Fig. 35 Katrina Andry with Taylor Bush and Nicole Lampl,“The Flower Cart,” May 14 – May 28, Installation on Carlos Rolón, Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), Photography by: Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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REFLECTING ON PLACE: A CONVERSATION WITH CARLOS ROLÓN ALLISON K. YOUNG This exhibition has developed over the course of your own recent immersion in New Orleans, both as a short-term resident and as a frequent visitor to the city. How would you characterize your encounter with both the history and contemporary culture of New Orleans, and how has your relationship to the city evolved in the past year?

Yes, you’re correct—this project began during my residency at the Joan Mitchell Center (JMC) in 2017. New Orleans has been described as not only a southern city, but a Caribbean city as well, a classification that has made me feel, paradoxically, like a stranger with an immediate personal connection. The city has taught me more about respect and inclusion, and it has a sense of warmth and generosity that mirrors my experience of the Caribbean. May I ask how your artistic practice has been influenced by your own upbringing?

As a child of first-generation Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States, culture is something that I have always been interested in. My installations are often rooted in personal memory, or inspired by music, colors, and exuberant domestic environments. I often channel ideas from my upbringing through tchotchkes, ornaments, and mass-produced faux objets d’art—such as vases, light fixtures, wallpapers and textiles—which reflects a sense of “blue collar baroque” and attainable luxury. For example, as a child I bore witness to the ways in which immigrant households adapted to new American lifestyles through everyday items. Mirrors, in particular, adorned my family’s domiciles. As a material, mirror allows a makeshift home in Puerto Rico made from cinder block and corrugated metal to seem larger than it is, and creates a grand aesthetic that embellishes the interiors. This kind of gesture signals a process of adaptation and has become an integral component throughout Outside In.

Fig. 36 (p. 68 – 69) Installation image from Carlos Rolón: Outside In at the New Orleans Museum of Art, 2018, Photography by Roman Alokhin, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art Fig. 37 (left) Carlos Rolón at the Joan Mitchell Center, 2017, Photograph © 2018 by Dawoud Bey

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It’s so poignant that your use of mirror reflects personal memories of home while also gesturing to larger socio-cultural ideas surrounding aspiration and adaptation. Could you say a bit more about the artistic process of working with mirror in the studio? How do formal qualities such as reflectivity and its ability to shatter factor into your work on a more conceptual level?

All of these personal and cultural associations with mirror—revolving around home and personal adornment—are channeled into works that are ambitious and very minimal at the same time. Sometimes, this material reappears in a fragmented form, such as in obsessively detailed mosaic-patterned works, wherein the cracks are filled with custom enamel paint or 24-karat gold grout. Other pieces make use of shattered tempered glass, expanding on these ideas around self-reflection and beauty. All of these make reference to craft traditions and the handmade. Some of the cracks are preconceived and others happen by chance, alluding to a spontaneous process much like action painting. Another body of mirror works are inspired by the wrought-iron security fences—rejas in Spanish—that adorn the perimeters and windows of many Puerto Rican and Latin American homes, and which, in turn, have been brought over to the U.S. mainland. Ornately patterned, these are decorative but also serve as a barrier between private and public space. The use of mirror, however, contradicts its purpose as a barrier by reflecting the viewer and the exhibition space in the work, creating a dynamic interplay across that conceptual border. This brings us to another topic, which is the way in which your practice seems to be in

Fig. 38 Detail of Carlos Rolón, Maria, 2018, Hand-cut silver mirror on aluminum panel, 96 inches (diameter), Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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constant dialogue with architecture. How has this interest informed the works you made for NOMA, and how might the architectural landscape of New Orleans factor into the project?

My practice assumes a post-colonial and Caribbean-diasporic vantage point that is also evident in the cultural fabric of New Orleans. I want to bring aspects of these histories into the institution, and to help the public to feel welcomed and included, and architecture plays a large role in that process both within and beyond the museum. One example in Outside In is the installation Bochinche [Fig. 1], which incorporates custom marble benches surrounding a central sculpture of wrought iron fencework, ceramic, mirror, porcelain pedestals, handmade macramé, and references to exotic floral vegetation. This piece harkens back to the days before smartphones and social media, and serves as a literal space for friends and acquaintances to gather, chat, and build community. CARLOS ROLÓN

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Fig. 39 Detail of Carlos Rolón, Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence VII), 2018, Oil and 24 karat gold leaf on linen, 72 x 54 inches, Private collection, Aspen, Photography by Nathan Keay, Image courtesy of the Artist 74

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This and some of the mirror works also respond to the wrought-iron rejas, mentioned above, which can be spotted throughout both New Orleans and the Caribbean. Each of the wrought-iron elements in Outside In represents an acknowledgment of, and homage to, the various cultural identities and histories in New Orleans—Caribbean, French, Spanish, African, and American, among others.

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My intention is to invite the local community to collaborate, gain recognition and be celebrated, all at once. What draws you to salvaged and repurposed materials? When did you begin to work with these kinds of found objects?

I began working with found objects as part of my presentation at the 2007 Venice Biennale. For the most part, these works are investigatory, raising questions about the boundaries that exist between working class and upper class, or between aesthetic beauty and functionality. Most of these materials trigger recollections of my childhood, and the ways in which my relatives in Puerto Rico would make use of material intended for one thing and use it for another. The past always inspires the future, so using salvaged or repurposed materials is one way to dialogue with the past. One of the most dynamic components of the exhibition is the installation Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), which is inspired by street vendors in cities like Chicago, New Orleans, and others. Can you discuss the origins of this project?

This project was first realized as part of a satellite program to the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Theaster Gates invited me to present work at The Incubator— the exhibition space that he founded and directs at the University of Chicago Arts + Public Life. I was one of three invited artists, and there was no set idea, theme or agenda at the onset. Upon visiting the site, I was struck by the number of corner street vendors—some unlicensed—who depend on the community to support themselves, and create an honest living selling goods, food, or items that everyday people use or need on a daily basis. This piece grew out of an evolving friendship with one vendor in particular—Garland Gantt, a.k.a. “Hustleman.” I wanted to create a utilitarian object for the street vendors as well as the community.

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Fig. 40 Carlos Rolรณn, Fragments of Utopia (Ceramic Planter II), 2018, Ceramic tile and mirror, 25 x 25 inches, Collection of the Artist, Photography by Sesthasak Boonchai, courtesy New Orleans Museum of Art

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The piece is meant to invite the visitor to become part of a dialogue taking place both within the exhibition space and on the street corner, where goods are normally sold. My goal was to bring the community at large into the confines of this platform and to create a dialogue amongst strangers. In terms of design, the structure itself was influenced by the Habitat Marocain and explores the dynamics between formal and informal housing. The Habitat Marocain housing project was built between 1954 and 1956 by Swiss architects Jean Hentsch and AndrĂŠ Studer in Casablanca as part of the major postwar reconstruction and expansion undertaken by the French colonial administration after World War II. The building was intended to house local inhabitants rather than European expats; this led the architects to project, through their design, a number of ethnographic assumptions about Moroccans. I used the architectural renderings as the main source of inspiration for Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman). At the same time as creating a structure that vendors can utilize to sell goods, the piece also functions as a kind of public space where people can sit, gather, and engage with one another. How does the iteration of this project at NOMA seek to engage diverse communities and build connections across the city?

The Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) project relates very closely to the local urban environment in New Orleans, just as it did in Chicago. But it also seems that the creative communities of New Orleans do not receive the support that they deserve. With that said, I have decided to invite local artists, activists, and even a local chef to become part of my exhibition and use the cart as a platform, with no restrictions. My intention is to invite the local community to collaborate, gain recognition, and be celebrated all at once. Tell me about your project for the Great Hall, and your own encounters with this space.

When entering the Great Hall, my first instinct and visceral reaction is one of confronting grandeur and nobility. Personally, it reminds me of the Palace of Versailles. My goal is to create multicultural work for the Great Hall that is unabashedly inclusive. This space includes large custom planters made from repurposed wrought iron from the balconies around New Orleans, smaller custom planters made with Moorish ceramic and Spanish porcelain [Fig. 40], and a large mirror mosaic that reflects its surroundings and makes the Great Hall and installation more expansive. OUTSIDE IN

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Outside In touches on Puerto Rico and New Orleans as specific points of reference to larger questions around race, class, colonialism, and the environment. What connections or relationships do you hope to suggest between these two locales?

Many of the works in Outside In meditate on the ideas of personal security and perimeters. In both Puerto Rico and New Orleans, one finds a tension between inclusion and exclusion, or private and public, as well as a desire to safeguard or protect local culture and history. This process can also create a sense of seclusion or isolation. One direct historical connection that will be conveyed is the Spanish colonial discovery of gold in Puerto Rico and the Gulf of Mexico, which was facilitated by the removal of exotic tropical flora and vegetation. Enough gold was mined until 1530 to establish over four million dollars in Spanish currency. Many of the works included in Outside In—including a series of floral paintings entitled Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence), which is inspired by the vegetation in both regions—make use of real 24-karat gold leaf, generating a sense of hope and beauty as well as melancholic notes from the past. These works represent my reimagined replacement of the natural beauty that lived and breathed atop the minerals that brought wealth and abundance to colonizing cultures, contrasting the ideas of nature and territory. In the course of planning your exhibition at NOMA, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Has this disaster informed the direction of your practice in any way?

Natural disasters are devastating, non-calculated social experiences. Maria, which was the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the island in eighty-five years, is now being compared to Katrina which devastated New Orleans in 2005. Both faced a familiar cycle—loss of jobs, a weakened economy, and new diasporas leading to a decrease in local population. My goal is to convey a message for the community to embrace their past while still being present in the moment.

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Fig. 41 Carlos Rolon, Wrought-Iron Gate in Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2018, Image courtesy of the Artist

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1. Carlos Rolรณn The Gatekeepers I (New Orleans), 2018 Handmade gold mirror with enamel on aluminum panel, 60 x 60 inches Collection of the Artist

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2. Carlos Rolรณn The Gatekeepers II (Puerto Rico), 2018 Mirror, resin and enamel on aluminum panel, 60 x 60 inches Collection of Cari and Michael J. Sacks

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3. Carlos Rolón Losa Criolla, 2018 Ceramic tile on aluminum panel, 105 ½ x 65 inches New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum Purchase, P. Roussel Norman Fund, 2018.9

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4. Carlos Rolรณn Maria, 2018 Hand-cut silver mirror on aluminum panel, 96 inches (diameter) Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez

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5. Carlos Rolรณn Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja III), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron, 40 x 30 inches Collection of the Artist

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6. Carlos Rolรณn Untitled (Ponce Reja), 2016 Salvaged wrought iron and mirror, 62 x 42 inches Collection of the Artist

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7. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence II), 2016 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 72 x 54 inches Collection of Robert Lococo

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8. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence III), 2016 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 72 x 54 inches Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez

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9. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence IV), 2017 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 96 x 72 inches Collection of Glenn Fuhrman

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10. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence V), 2018 Oil and artificial gold leaf on canvas, 96 x 72 inches Collection of John and Amy Phelan

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11. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence VIII), 2018 Oil, ink and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 50 x 50 inches Collection of the Artist

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12. Carlos Rolรณn Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence IX), 2018 Oil, ink and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas, 50 x 50 inches Collection of Bob Chase

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EXHIBITION CHECKLIST Carlos Rolón Abuelita (Reflection of My Grandmother), 2018 Shells, mirror, 24-karat gold leaf, metal wiring, and fishing line 96 x 24 inches Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Bochinche, 2016 Repurposed wood, wrought iron, porcelain tile, vegetation, shell macramés, and Thassos marble benches Dimensions variable Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Fragments of Utopia (Ceramic Planter I), 2018 Ceramic tile and mirror 25 x 25 inches Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Fragments of Utopia (Ceramic Planter II), 2018 Ceramic tile and mirror 25 x 25 inches Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Fragments of Utopia (Planter I), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron and stainless steel 50 x 50 inches Collection of Cari and Michael J. Sacks Carlos Rolón Fragments of Utopia (Planter II), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron and stainless steel 50 x 50 inches Collection of Cari and Michael J. Sacks

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Carlos Rolón Fragments of Utopia (Mirror Mosaic), 2018 Mirror, 24-karat gold leaf, and enamel 132 x 58 in. Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón The Gatekeepers (New Orleans), 2018 Handmade gold mirror with enamel on aluminum panel 60 x 60 inches Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón The Gatekeepers (Puerto Rico), 2018 Mirror, resin, and enamel on aluminum panel 60 x 60 inches Collection of Cari and Michael J. Sacks Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence II), 2016 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas 72 x 54 inches Collection of Robert Lococo Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence III), 2016 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas 72 x 54 inches Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence IV), 2017 Oil and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas 96 x 72 inches Collection of Glenn Fuhrman

CARLOS ROLÓN

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Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence V), 2018 Oil and artificial gold leaf on canvas 96 x 72 inches Collection John and Amy Phelan Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence VIII), 2018 Oil, ink, and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas 50 x 50 inches Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Gild the Lily (Decadence Upon Decadence IX), 2018 Oil, ink, and 24-karat gold leaf on canvas 50 x 50 inches Collection of Bob Chase Carlos Rolón Losa Criolla, 2018 Ceramic tile on aluminum panel 105 ½ x 65 inches New Orleans Museum of Art Museum Purchase, P. Roussel Norman Fund, 2018.9 Carlos Rolón Maria, 2018 Hand-cut silver mirror on aluminum panel 8 ft. round tondo 96 inches (diameter) Collection of Ednita and Rolando Jimenez

Carlos Rolón Paraiso de la Dulzura (Jibaro Garden), 2016 Cinder block, ceramic tile, and silk flowers Dimensions variable Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja I), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron and mirror 47 ½ inches (diameter) Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja II), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron and mirror 45 inches (diameter) Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Untitled (Hybrid Wrought Iron Reja III), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron 32 x 42 in. Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Untitled (New Orleans Reja), 2018 Salvaged wrought iron and mirror Approx. 8 x 7 ft. Collection of the Artist Carlos Rolón Untitled (Ponce Reja), 2016 Salvaged wrought iron and mirror 66 x 42 inches Collection of the Artist

Carlos Rolón Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), 2015 Mixed media Dimensions variable Collection of the Artist

OUTSIDE IN

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