Carla Rippey’s ‘Inner Lives’
Paper Edition | Page: 22
Carla Rippey is a native of Kansas City (b. 1950) whose creative life of over 30 years in Mexico has earned her acknowledgment and respect as a unique Mexican graphic artist and painter.
Her solo show, organized as a traveling exhibition making a stop in Jakarta from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, may not be the best among her oeuvre. Nevertheless, many of the works are of compelling and intense sensitivity, evoking a desire to dig deeper into the narrative of her life that must have inspired the making of these images.
Her biographical writings that appear on the Internet as excerpts from the book El Uso de la Memoria reveal her family went nomadic following her father’s journalism posts, but at 18 she forged her own path, first to Paris then to Boston, where she helped set up a women’s movement.
She has been an activist since she was young; in New York, where she studied the humanities, she was arrested when demonstrating against the war. In Chile, where she married a Mexican man studying there, she also landed in jail as a member of the leftist movement.
It was in Chile that she learned printmaking in the studios of the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile in 1972. When Allende fell, she and her husband left for Mexico where she participated in the collective printmaking studio “El Molino de Sto. Domingo” and joined the experimental art group “Peyote y Compañia”, collaborating in the production of installations, performances, prints, photography and other art. She also separated from her husband but stayed in Mexico, taking care of her two sons while actively engaged as an artist.
Presented in Jakarta by the Mexican Embassy in close cooperation with the National Gallery here, most of Rippey’s subject themes are solitary female figures that could be representative of herself, and portraits of women with names that must have or are playing a role in the post revolution period given the title of the series in which they appear. There are a few that show women with children, and some of which the Mexican Ambassador to Indonesia Melba Pria has denoted as typically Mexican.
But it is the variety of techniques and the creative intensity of innovative blending that is of special note. And what is more, they show the same inspiring features of mood that tend to strangely draw in the viewer, no matter whether
they are made with intaglio like A Tribute to Belocq, graphite like in The Last Self Portrait, embossed with Chine Colle transfer in the series Flowers of Evil and the polyptych Culture Shock, or in gravures or simple etchings.
Hatching, an artistic technique used to create tonal or shading effects by drawing or scribing closely spaced parallel lines has become an important feature in many of Rippey’s works, sometimes changing the lines for points or other marks. Her art also makes use of Japanese and Nepalese paper as backgrounds for her mixed media works.
The giant wall installation consisting of numerous separate images put together seems to be a fitting representation of what her life has been. Meant as a migration project, it is titled America in the Extreme, epitomizing the journey on the road from Nebraska where her great-grandparents settled in the 1880s to Mexico, where on the way migrants of various origins passed the road with their numerous beliefs, myths and legends, probably mingled and evoking cross-cultural ties while settling in places other than their places of birth.
On these images, which are from photographs and cutouts from newspapers or magazines that were collected from several sources, Rippey let her own imagination intertwine with the realities on the picture, cropping, sewing or drawing in layers over the original to fit her intended narrative, thus transforming the original into new images with alternative meanings.
Given the proliferation of works that Rippey seems to have and still is producing and seeing only the works made between the mid 1900s and the early 2000s, it would have been interesting to know whether new media of the current time has had any impact on her works.
To do justice to her seemingly untempered creative innovations, it is important to see her most recent works beside the ones in the show that were created in an earlier period, which in this light seems insufficient. It is hoped that other shows of this interesting artist will follow suit.
Carla Rippey has had numerous solo and joint exhibitions, has been involved with many projects and the writing of books and is currently teaching experimental graphics and holds positions at the national art school La Esmeralda in Mexico City and other art institutions of the Mexican government.
A solo exhbition by Carla Rippey
Organized by the Mexican Embassy in cooperation with Galeri Nasional Jakarta
Aug. 31 – Sept. 17, 2012
Galeri Nasional Jakarta
Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur 14