Lucky To Be Here

Lucky To Be Here

June 15, 2021 - August 18, 2021
Curated by Rachel Sydlowski

Archetypes of home are presented as otherworldly, nostalgic, and uncanny in this exhibition that considers the visual philology of architecture, furniture forms, family, shelter, mapping, and immigration. Artists examine the complexities of home, as explicit spaces and psychological or spiritual states. The title of this exhibition, Lucky To Be Here, is borrowed from Leonardo Madriz’s video installation and the complex myths and notions of success in America. This collection of artists examines the broader question of ‘how are we here?’ How did we come to occupy this very space and time and how do we navigate the discursive set of circumstances that allow for our varied experiences to intersect on the most cosmic and banal level? Each artist explores branches of knowledge that deal with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a visual language associated with our very existence and continuation.

Elemental signifiers link one artist to the next, Bronx-based artist Lizzy Alejandro’s altered photography addresses fraught relationships of family and transgenerational trauma. The artist uses mixed media and her own body as subject matter, literally tearing through the photographic substrate and rebuilding the imagery to explore the complexities of her family history. Vanezza Cruz’s series of collages revise and reclaim power and agency over eurocentric aesthetic standards of beauty. These collages reference memories of routine salon visits with her mother. Freeing women from the open-access collection and vintage printed catalogs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sarah Rowe’s video constructs an invented home and sacred spaces that are feminist in nature. In the animations, women practice metaphysical, sacred, and esoteric magic. She rewrites the outcomes of Judeo-Christian practices where women have agency and access to be spiritual and intellectual leaders. In his large-scale installations, Dionis Ortiz recreates versions of his childhood apartment in Harlem. Through the warm familiarity of furniture forms, vinyl flooring, and homely elements his installation pays homage to family. The intricate tesselation of the vinyl floor related to the ritualistic act of replacing the tiles with his father.

The fleeting nature of home, one that is carried within, is addressed by artists in entirely different materials and methods. Patrick Perry revisits the Canadian wilderness of his childhood through the transformation of metal into body sculpture. This resulting talisman is etched with maps of Nova Scotia and the Bronx uniting both places together. In the performative act of using the device to measure the distance of land, the artist documents the process through photographs taken in the Bronx waterways, resembling the rural landscape of his childhood. A line from the poem Splendor in the Grass by William Wordsworth is etched into the metal that is worn against the body, while pearls are employed metaphorically, linking the coastlines and waterways of the North Atlantic. In his video and installations, Leonardo Madriz retraces his family history from Nicaragua to Louisiana. He grapples with the political landscape, family, and delivers a myriad of philosophical and relational experiences through an impactful and abstractly truthful medium. Architecture as an extension of memory is present in Yeon Ji Yoo’s sculptures. The ethereal qualities of the physical elements contrast with the enduring nature of memories. The artist addresses family history, myth, and dream states through cozy architectural vernacular and detritus. Erica Baily’s installation engages with concepts of shelter and the shared elemental existence of prehistory and futuristic dwellings. The collective consciousness of humanity is examined linking the cosmos against the smallness and earthliness of our shared existence on this planet.

The articulation of home manifests itself in contrastive materials and processes; sculpture, video, photography, installation, printmaking, and collage. Artists in this exhibition are both Bronx insiders and outsiders, each with a different relationship to the city; a new or temporary home, place of origin, or an unexplored land. The varied approaches and experiences prove that home is never a stasis, but a fleeting ideal, one that exists in the cosmos, memories, or in the complexities of remaking an elemental yet inimitable feeling.

Alejandro Lizzy, RootedView Artist


Erica Bailey, Outstare the Stars (detail)View Artist


Vanezza Cruz, Epitafios psicológico de autorretrato/edición #1View Artist


Leonardo Madriz, Portals (installation view)View Artist


Dionis Ortiz, RuptureView Artist


Patrick Perry, Splendor in the GrassView Artist


Sarah Rowe, Women’s Order of Alchemy and Mysticism (still from video)View Artist


Yeon Ji Yoo, Maryland FuneralView Artist


Rachel Sydlowski

Curator Biography:

Rachel Sydlowski

Based in New York City, Rachel Sydlowski is a visual artist and educator. Recent exhibitions include Facebook Open Arts, Wassaic Project, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, Chashama Space to Connect: Fordham Windows Project, Wave Hill Sunroom Project Space, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York Public Library, and Lehman College Art Gallery. Curatorial projects include Intersecting Editions at The Castle Gallery, History of the Present at OSilas Gallery and Infinite Archive, NYPL at the 115th Street Harry Belafonte Library.