Women at work
Sandra Trujillo is a ceramist living and working in Georgia, USA. A recurring theme in her work is her compassion with the immigrant women working for a better life for their children.
Sandra had residencies at OBRAS-Portugal in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 she was in OBRAS-Holland.
This page mainly focuses on her project at OBRAS-Holland in October-December 2013. She created some hundreds small porcelain sculptures, about 5cm tall. Most statues are female. Some carry heavy loads, others fight, play or are just gesturing.
The first impression is astonishment due to size and number of the sculptures and despite of their tininess the details in face and other body parts. But than one starts puzzling about the scene: what is happening? Together they form a community. Is it a cloud of work force?, a lost civilization?, the cargo of an overseas slaves transport?, an army preparing for war?
The figures remind to Baroque silverware: the miniature creatures populating the edges of scales and bowls. But they are clearly not that showy and playful. More like people in paintings of Hieronymus Bosch or the terra cotta warriors of the ancient Royal Grave of Qin, China. The tall faces remind to Giacometti.
The work of Sandra Trujillo always has deeper layers. In this case she refers to the Mexican laborers who are working in Georgia and other US states in unpopular jobs under poor conditions for low salaries, longing for a better future for themselves or their relatives.
You directly feel compassion with the figurines, possibly due to their fragility, size and lively gestures. And may be also because they are naked and not directly beautiful. Mean stream in art is to show the female body in a sensual and gorgeous manner, sometimes provocative and narcissistic, often as an object of beauty. But the women of Sandra are special because they are so normal, so human. They seem to have no problem with their big belly or bony legs. They do not lack self-confidence or feel stalked. They just live their life and do their job.
Sandra intends presenting the whole cloud of figurines in one installation. The exhibition will probably in the USA and possibly also in Holland.
Sandra also experimented for another installation with similar figurines. It will become and arrangement placed in a layer of water or oil. The figures will wade across carrying others and objects on their shoulders.
An earlier project is a collection of 400 bronze buttons with China lay in. On each button she did draw and paint portraits of a sailor: seemingly of ancient times, may be being part of the crew of the great discovery journeys. Also in this project the objects are tiny (1 cm in diameter) and amazingly detailed. And the faces are not meant to be beautiful.
Sandra Trujillo studied ceramics in the USA and Spain Currently is Associate Professor of Art, Georgia College & State University, in Georgia, USA and gives guest lectures on other universities in the USA. She also lectured in Turkey, Czech Republic and Hungary. She is curator and juror for art activities and published in scientific journals.
She had solo and duo exhibitions in the USA (Montevallo, Milledgeville, Augusta, Roswell, Mercer, Piedmont, Cheney, Missoula, Spokane, Helena) and participated in group exhibitions in the USA (Iowa City, Chicago, Edwardsville, Atlanta, Gatlinburg, Booth Bay, Helena, Watkinsville, Sante Fe, Wallingford, Milledgeville, Baltimore, Watkinsville, Pittsfield, Decatur, Bloomington, Scottsdale, Worcester, St. Louis, Pullman, Parkland, Anchorage, Tempe, Seattle, Lenox, Cheney, Denver, Napa, Pomona, Helena, El Cajon and Mendocino), Turkey (Eskisehir) and Denmark (Middelfart and Skaelskor).
First of all Sandra Trujillo is a ceramist. But she is also a gifted drawer. She had a prestigious solo exhibition of her drawings (Palácio D. Manuel, Évora, Portugal, 2012).
In March 2015 these figurines were shown, standing in an oil bath in an exhibition, titled “a dia del trabajo”, at the South Caroline University in Beaumont (USA). See below for an impression.
A side project of Sandra's residency in 2013 was making porcelain medallions of sailors:
Once in a while Sandra mails us about her work and vision. Some time ago she mailed us these beautiful thoughts:
" My pieces were fired yesterday, but I haven't seen them yet. I,m sure they are just fine, as Hanneke is "at the helm". Nevertheless, I think that ceramists are always a bit anxious when work is in the kiln. That's the real truth. I know that working with clay is incredibly humbling and we, the ceramic artists, are practiced in loss through the numerous experiences of losing work to the flames. At the same time, we are truly curious about what jewels will result when you open that kiln. The transformation of clay to a stone at 1250 degrees Celsius is akin to a wild ride. We also have to relearn each piece that we made because it feels different, looks different and is different. The ways each object was touched and modeled in the process changes and tells another story after the firing. I always tell my students that artists are at home with "the unexpected" because of those shifts, changes, and surprises in the process of making art. I think that ceramic artists are good storytellers of the unexpected. We don’t have the anxiety of old timey diamond cutters, because we are working with 1/3 dirt, but we know about and expect transformation. One time I over fired a kiln and it got to "white heat" ... I destroyed the kiln. All of the kiln shelves softened like floppy pancakes and molded themselves over my porcelain objects. They cooled and were like stone blankets over everything. I thought it was a complete disaster until I started to excavate. My objects were the only things that survived because of their particular shape and particular kaolin content. I ended up selling those objects without telling the owners the story of what those little forms went through. "