Object of the Week: Momia con Flores en la Cabeza by Mariana Monteagudo

Mariana Monteagudo, born in 1976 in Venezuela, is a Miami-based artist best known for her mixed media sculptures. Monteagudo explores thrift stores and even her neighbors’ trash to find used and discarded materials, which she transforms into figural sculptures. She describes herself as living “in a constant process of upcycling and reuse… continuously seeking, always resuscitating, permanently combining and thinking ahead of time, and placing her faith into the most unimagined creations.”[1] In combining materials that typically would not be found together, Monteagudo creates collages for her viewers, which elicit senses of both familiarity and estrangement. Monteagudo is inspired by global popular culture, from American mass market toys to Japanese manga, and her sculptures manifest these influences, particularly her Muñecas—or dolls—which have come to define her as an artist and her signature style as a sculptor. These popular culture influences mix with indigenous rituals and Monteagudo’s own Latin American heritage as a way to mesh the past with the present, especially the present-day globalized world. Monteagudo blurs the line between modern and historic in order to encourage viewers to make their own temporal associations, or perhaps disassociate from a particular period of time. Momia con flores en la cabeza (Mummy with Flowers on her Head) reflects these themes; while the sculpture represents the historical practice of mummification, it feels contemporary due to its resemblance to modern mass market dolls.Describing her Muñecas, Monteagudo says, “I plan to go on making them as long as I feel an urge to challenge myself, explore new materials, and find new combinations. I can’t help it. It is who I am. It is what I do.”[2] Momia con flores en la cabeza is currently on view in Socially Gifted: 75 Years of Gifts from the Social Art Club through July 21, 2019.

-Paige Nelligan, Curatorial Intern

[1] Mariana Monteagudo, artist statement for Contemporary Ceramic Art at Dubhe Carreño Gallery

[2] Mariana Monteagudo, artist statement, marianamonteagudo.net

Mariana Monteagudo, Momia con flores en la cabeza, 2003, ceramic and mixed media, 35 x 10 x 7 inches, Everson Museum of Art; Museum purchase with funds from the Social Art Club, 2004.4