The Halsey Institute will debut Peruvian American artist Kukuli Velarde’s CORPUS project in its entirety for the first time. CORPUS is comprised of ceramic and fabric works that encourage reflection on the meaning of survival in the face of colonialism. Fifteen ceramic sculptures, each with matching tapestries, will be presented in a symbolic representation of the annual Corpus Christi festival in Cusco, Perú. The sculptures reference indigenous pre-Columbian forms and iconographies in a visual representation of syncretic aesthetic, cultural, and religious traditions. CORPUS engages with and confronts Perú’s Spanish colonial past, asserting that pre-Columbian sacred entities and the worldview they inhabit were not vanquished by Spanish conquerors, but instead cleverly blended with their Catholic counterparts, ensuring their survival. So too, have the diverse peoples of Perú and greater Latin America formed and reformed political, religious, and cultural identity in the shadow of centuries-long oppression. Velarde’s CORPUS asks viewers to consider this resilience via her stunningly detailed and humorously thought-provoking work.
Velarde raises fascinating questions about the inner life of art objects, as well as the exotic “Othering” of sacred rituals like Corpus Christi that now also serve as tourist attractions for visitors to Perú. In this complete realization, CORPUS explores issues of colonialism, cultural identity, aesthetics, and the performance of self.
Kukuli Velarde: CORPUS was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, and the Southwest School of Art at University of Texas at San Antonio. Kukuli Velarde: CORPUS is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, the Halsey Institute’s presentation of CORPUS is supported by donations from A Friend of the Arts, Lynn and Jeff Trenning, Karen A. Vournakis, Lynch Cracraft Wealth Management of Raymond James, Marissa Sams, Marshall Walker Real Estate, Anonymous, Bette Mueller-Roemer and Walter Crocker, Carolyn and William Matalene, Colin Johnson, Karen and David Thompson, Kathryn and Brian Rutenberg, Liz and Greg Lantz, Margaret P. Schachte and Hal S. Currey, Pamela and Stan Kaplan, Sunshine and Tyler Leinbach, Anne and Cisco H. Lindsey, and Adrienne Jacobsen and Joshua Bagwell.
On view May 13 – July 16
Gallery Hours: 11:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Saturday, and until 7:00pm on Thursdays
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
College of Charleston
161 Calhoun Street, downtown Charleston