ARTLURKER

A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

AT LARGE: Cristina Lei Rodriguez

Blued (in progress in 2008). Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin.

Continuing AT LARGE, a feature which aims to ascertain what sense of geographic priority if any American contemporary artist’s have by tracking down and questioning those who left Miami, we speak today with Cristina Lei Rodriguez. Rodriguez is famous in Miami for strangely appetizing works created by covering a variety of made materials with epoxy resin and paint. Ranging from organic plant or coral-like forms to structures which appear geometrical or industrial in principle her work often deals with the subject of decay yet is able also to convey an abiding sense of glamor- albeit sometimes somewhat trashy in all sense of the word.

Having evolved from dealing principally with the quality of synthetics, surface texture and the creation of artificial landscapes, her work now has a dominant emotional element. Taking inspiration from the classical principles of sculpture and the sensation of scale one can derive from Egyptian sculptures at the MET – or even something as simple as a big rock teetering on a pedestal – she creates forms which stir awareness of space, moving the viewer in both physical and cerebral ways.

Rodriguez was represented in Miami by the US branch of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, which for a time before its close in January of this year was arguably the most impressive gallery in Miami. Subsequently Rodriguez – who is also represented by TEAM Gallery in New York – has attracted the attention of Fredric Snitzer – arguably Miami’s most revered dealer – with whom she recently signed. Now living in Connecticut, but with galleries in both Miami (her home) and New York (arguably the World’s art capital) she speaks to ARTLURKER for the first time since her move about life, work, commuting and the eventuality of returning to Miami.

Cristina Lei Rodriguez’s Miami studio. Courtesy of the artist.

Why did you leave?

My husband has a fellowship at Yale to finish his PHD in Psychology.  Our family moved to New Haven, Connecticut last summer.

Was it worth it?

Yes it has been worth it because my husband Larry has been getting excellent training and he is very challenged by his program.

Are you coming back?

Definitely coming back, Miami is my home and all of my family is there.  Besides I have lived up north before but I don’t think I am cutout for this cold weather.  My parents are from islands; this isn’t in my blood.

If so why?

Not only is my family in Miami, but I am glad to be part of the Miami art community.

If not why not?

Not applicable.

Nicolas Lobo (Left), Mungo Thompson (Back) and Cristina Lei Rodriguez (2 x middle and far right) in The Possibility of an Island at MOCA at The Goldman Warehouse, 2008 – 2009. Courtesy of Steven Brooke.

If you have maintained healthy ties to Miami please discuss them stating how this was important?

I have been coming home every 4- 6 weeks to work in my studio in Miami.  Our move to New Haven is temporary so I have been trying to maintain my studio practice in Miami. As a sculptor it isn’t so easy to move your studio, especially when it has large scale works in progress.

Please compare and contrast New Haven and Miami in an original way.

According to www.weather.com

“Right now for New Haven, CT.  12:25 am Cloudy, 1º F, feels like –9º F”

“Right now for Miami, FL. 12:25 am Clear, 79º F, feels like 82º F”

Cristina Lei Rodriguez’s Miami studio. Courtesy of the artist.

What is the most significant difference you have found between professional practice in Miami and where you are now?

I know more about professional practice in New York City, which has been easy to access from New Haven. In NYC it is expensive to live and competitive to be an artist. You have to be really committed to be an artist and I think it results in an intensity that produces strong, critical work.  I feel there is also more focus on the study of art. It is a place where culture is constantly being created, defined and debated. That said I prefer to visit New York and live in Miami. I feel more balanced as a person in Miami.

Has that affected the way in which you work? If so how?

I don’t think it has really affected the way I work.  I have just picked up some new ideas and influences.

How has your work responded to the move?

I have already made some new work inspired by some of the shows I have seen so far.  I really enjoy the “Hall of Minerals” at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale and there is a show at the FIT Museum called Gothic: the dark side of fashion that was interesting.

Blued (revised) (Recently re-worked from title image (which the artist described as regrettably animal-like and reminiscent of a shy Pegasus) for appearance at The Armory Show), 2009. Courtesy of the artist and Fredric Snitzer Gallery

Is the scene as incestuous as in Miami?

Again, I am not really involved in any scene in New Haven. The art scene in NYC is so much bigger than Miami, but the contemporary art world in general is incestuous.

Do you value Miami more or less having moved away?

More

Are you more stable financially?

With our daughter Ruby it is easier for us in Miami because we have so much support from our families. We are doing fine though. Change has been good[.]

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For more information please visit: www.snitzer.com & www.teamgallery.com

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AT LARGE: Cristina Lei Rodriguez