Grimanesa Amorós

"Between Heaven and Earth" (photo c/o Grimanesa)

"Terrarium" (photo c/o Grimanesa)

Grimanesa with Susana Baca

Grimanesa Amorós


Multidisciplinary Artist: Peru

Multidisciplinary artist Grimanesa Amorós has spent half her life in Peru and half in New York City—a realization that occurred when we first met in February of 2006. For a moment she remained pensive about having two homes. It’s a challenging situation.

    Seconds later, traffic noise burst through the windows of her Manhattan studio and diffracted the revelation. There’s always so much going on here. Projects are in every corner. Stacks of press blurbs and promotional statements lie on tables. Blueprints hang in neat rows on a wall near the kitchen—future work for public spaces.

    Grimanesa puts tremendous importance on having her hand in every aspect. Nothing leaves the studio unless she’s seen it; edited it; approved it. The quality must always be there. Research has to be done. Growth must continue.

“Perhaps for people who are seeing your work for the first time, it might seem very good. But people for example who are following your career, then you have a responsibility because they say, ‘Oh my God she’s selling out’, or ‘Oh my God she’s doing the same thing as before’.

Or…it would be great for them to say, ‘Once more she has surprised us. Once more she has been able to do something new’.

As human beings we change. Our interests change.”

    So really, describing the brilliant facets inside Grimanesa would take almost too much time and too many pages. Spend a moment exploring her creations. Try the variety of flavors in Frente Ferroz, Petalos, and Rootless Algas. Every installation explodes with feeling.

    And if you’re in Tribeca, visit Terrarium, a permanent, site-specific public art project (in the lobby of 54 N. Moore St.). It’s an incredible collection of wall-mounted acrylic half-globes that glow with all sorts of colors, randomly fading in and out. Each globe contains a photograph, many of which detail the past and present life of the building. It’s viewable from the street, and is especially lovely at night.

“Most of the projects I have to work one at a time because they’re so intense, and I try to keep it simple but there are too many factors involved—the lighting, the music, the administrative part of it, the press that you’re dealing with. Then there’s the making of it, the installation of it, and then afterwards the consequence that it brings.

To give them the intensity and the way it should be brought out to the spectator, I think it requires all of my time—to me, for the quality.”

    An expression in her eyes: Grimanesa is very perceptive. She's got a love for knowledge. A love for communicating. A love for sharing. If she gains a similar feeling in you, she'll share readily—through her voice and through her work.

"For me it's not as much people buying my work and hanging it in their places. To me it's trying to communicate something, trying to provoke some questioning about their own lives or about how they see life, you know? I like to make them think—or maybe even hate it, because if they hate something it's gonna make them think, you see?"

    With that type of desire, collaborating across disciplines has become necessity. Grimanesa has gained tremendous pleasure from this type of work—recently linking with compatriot singer and historian Susana Baca on a project that involved sculpture, video, and music. The evening before the project opened, she and Susana lovingly posed together for me (see photo—Grimanesa on the left). Months earlier, she ruminated:

"I have been very lucky because each person I have collaborated with has been amazing. They are the most humble people that you can meet, I think because they know they carry something inside them that they have to protect. You cannot just brag about it because otherwise it might leave you. You see what I mean? Because it's so precious that you don't need to brag. And at the same time when you meet them you wouldn't think they are so powerful in a way. When you hear what they have composed, it's just unbelievable."

    That sort of brilliance and the insatiable need to create are ever present. I always feel better after we speak.

{march 2006}