Zacarias has spent much of her time in 2019 and 2020 on the West Coast. She was working intensely on the commission of five sculptures spanning 250 feet for the Seattle Tacoma International Airport. These monumental colorful sculptures were inspired by the culture and palette of the Pacific Northwest. The works refer to the bodies of water around Seattle, their undulating forms evoking expansion and movement. It took two and a half years with a dedicated studio team to complete the project. It will soon be on view.
While in Seattle, Zacarías also returned to her early mural painting practice for MadArt.
The exhibition room presents an installation of vibrant floor to ceiling paintings surrounding a pyramidal structure with a sculpture at its center. The iconography and the structure of the installation give homage to the esthetics of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Xochicalco, Mexico, one of Zacarías’ art historical inspirations.
After the physical demands of these epicprojects, Zacarías returned to her New York studio for a period of solitude. Replenishing and reflecting in the quietness of an isolated space, she continued to create. Her new painted sculptures are of a smaller size, personal and luminous. Their volumetric forms hang on the walls. They have the energy of a Haiku: condensed and lively. Their whole physicality speaks of a privileged time, one of making space and finding pleasure in the intimacy of creation at a human scale.
What comes through very clearly in the new works is Zacarías' continuous engagement with the history of abstraction, from the American continent to European modernism. Her references are playful rather than self-conscious. They shift with ease from Russian Constructivism to Mexican pigments; biomorphic curves dialog with the artist's personal version of American Neo-plasticism. Clearly, Zacarías’s works have in them the rigor of a practice, both physical and intellectual, yet their presence is everything but serious and academic. They move through space freely, freshly and unconventionally.
About Marela Zacarias: Marela Zacarias works with a labor-intensive process that merges sculpture with painting. She fabricates forms out of wire screening attached to wooden supports or found objects to which she applies layers of plaster to create undulating forms. Through sanding, polishing, and painting, she creates sculptures with the quality of fabric, filled with movement and expressive quality. She then paints the sculptures with original patterns and geometric abstract shapes that are inspired by her research. Her work is characterized by an interest in site specificity, socially committed history and current events.
Marela Zacarias has had solo exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum; Praxis Gallery, the National Arts Club and at Art at Viacom at 1515 Broadway building all in NY; and at the Brattleboro Museum, Vermont. She has taken part in group exhibitions at the British Society of American Art, Praxis Gallery, Y Gallery, Rush Arts Gallery and El Museo del Barrio, all in NY. Marela has received large-scale permanent site-specific commissions from The Sea-Tac International Airport, Seattle; Facebook HQ, CA; The William Vale in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; the American Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. Her murals can be found in Washington DC, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Mexico and Guatemala. Zacarias has had residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson; University of Connecticut; Storrs; and at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, among others. She was profiled in the Art 21 New York Close Up Series in 2013, 1214 and 2016.
Zacarias received her BA from Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, and her M.F.A. from Hunter College, New York. She lives between Brooklyn, NY and Mexico City.
About Barbara Stehle: Barbara Stehle, Ph.D., is an art historian, independent curator and art consultant. She worked at the Pompidou Center in Paris before moving to the US. She currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design and directs Art Intelligentsia through which she offers art historical services. She has given a Tedx talk about "Architecture as Human Narrative" and writes mostly about European Art, Architecture and Women's contribution to the art historical field. She recently completed an essay for African American Abstractionist Lula Blocton upcoming monograph.