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Mueller Gallery to Present Exhibitions on US-Mexico Border, Historical Crowns

"Panel 1 - Plazas and Parks" by Dionisio Cortes Ortega
 ‘1560’ by Mauricio Cortes

Caldwell, N.J., Aug. 16, 2019 – The Mueller Gallery at Caldwell University will open its 2019-20 season Sept. 4 with exhibitions on historical crowns and the U.S,-Mexico border.  “Mauricio Cortes Ortega: Scin-til-late” and “Dionisio Cortes Ortega: Blurred Boundarieswill be on view Sept. 4 to Oct. 8.  The public is invited to a talk with both artists from 5 to 6 p.m. followed by a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4.  The exhibitions are free and open to the public. 

“Scin-til-late” brings together recent work derived from research on historical crowns such as the Crown of the Andesa 17th century votive crown made in Colombia. The crown, purportedly made from melted down Inca objects and stolen emeralds from the last emperor, was sold to a Chicago jeweler in the 20th century and subsequently paraded at fairs, car shows and fancy dinners and finally acquired by the MET in 2015. Mauricio’s work reimagines history and corrupted splendor, complex and historical objects imbued with untold stories; alternative interpretations emerge from disfigured symbols and the redaction of the decorative.

“Blurred Boundaries” is a photography and video installation that challenges the perceived differences between the United States and Mexico. The work consists of recent images taken in two sets of cities in the USA and Mexico: Chicago, Illinois-Saltilllo, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas-Matamoros, Mexico.  These visuals are juxtaposed and presented on custom-made stereoscopic devices with the intention of mixing and blurring the identity of each photograph. Still and moving imagery are paired by location and feature everyday scenes of life in places such as markets, schools, and parks among many others. Cortes Ortega says that his exhibition draws its foundation from the public discourse on immigration that has emphasized the differences on either side of the border, differences that were rooted at the dawn of colonization and have grown over time and with ongoing political agendas. “Blurred Boundaries” seeks to puzzle the viewer by showing indistinguishable images from either side of the divide. This exercise enables viewers to question how the assumed differences dissipate, exposing the porous nature of physical and metaphysical borders. 

For information on the exhibitions, go to www.caldwell.edu/gallery or call 973-618-3238

ABOUT THE ARTISTS 

Mauricio Cortes Ortega is an artist and educator living and working in New York. His independent and collaborative projects reflect on histories of colonialism in the Americas that have reshaped everyday symbols, religious idols and craft production. Ortega is interested in making objects and images inspired by the dramatic history of colonial America. His paintings, drawings and sculptures depict shrouded objects like crowns, hoods and other bodily adornments. In his paintings and drawings, he uses bingo markers and glitter pens to achieve shimmering and vibrant effects. He often employs line patterns, a visual connection to his hometown’s historical production of the Mexican Saltillo sarape: intricate textiles that trace colonial history through changes in design, material, and function in society. For his sculptures, he glazes the ceramic pieces in a super high gloss black for a deep mirror finish; each sculpture stands as an individual object but when brought together represent a growing still-life collection. 

Dionisio Cortes Ortega holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from The Cooper Union in New York City.  In addition to the numerous life drawing classes, Ortega took film and photography in the art school, all of which influenced his artistic and professional practice. Recently his work has focused on tackling social and political issues including: the series of missing 43 Ayotzinapa students in Mexico; the upheavals along the border between Mexico and the United States; and the current state of the justice system in the United States. Ortega has worked with number of different media. Currently he is shooting photography and creating large scale sculptures. Dionisio is also a registered architect in the State of New York and has a studio in the Bronx.