Peters Projects presents In Situ, by Albuquerque based artist, Jami Porter Lara, the first exhibition since her critically acclaimed Border Crossing at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC earlier this year.
While exploring a remote stretch of the U.S./Mexico border, Porter Lara found two-liter bottles used to carry water—the most recent in a lineage of artifacts from millennia of human travel through the region. Struck by essential sameness of the plastic bottle and the potsherd, she re-conceptualizes the plastic bottle to represent its function as a precious object—a vessel—capable of sustaining human life. The artist connects the plastic bottle to the long history of functional vessels that humans use to contain and transport the necessities of life; sees the iconic forms embedded in its design and the human creativity that gave rise to it; and recognizes that these qualities exist alongside the bad, absurd, ugly, and unsustainable. Porter Lara writes, "we are a species that negotiates the world through our material culture: the things we make are microcosms of our values, and therefore, extensions of ourselves. Conversely and often alarmingly, we are also extensions of the things we make."
Porter Lara learned to work with clay in Mata Ortiz, Mexico, and her process consists of little more than mud and fire. She digs and prepares clay from a site near her home. Each vessel is built by hand from coils of clay, then burnished and pit-fired.
In this exhibition titled In Situ, Porter Lara contemplates what it means for humans and technology to be “in place” in the world of nature, and for people to be “in place” in the world of nations. “My hope is to connect the plastic bottle to a long lineage of vessels that have been used to carry water through deserts, and in so doing, to reveal my basic connection to the long lineage of humans who have—driven by necessity or desire—traveled these lands before or despite national boundaries,” said Porter Lara. “I want to expose the porous nature of ‘borders’ as well as the ‘nature’ of art and garbage, and to record my interest in the permeability of all things human, natural and technological.”
Born in Spokane, Washington, Porter Lara has lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1980. Rejecting the notion that humanity is the opponent of nature, Porter Lara is a conceptual artist whose approach to making is driven by her determination to become a citizen of the natural world. In 2017, Artsy named her one of the “20 Artists Shaping the Future of Ceramics”. Her work is in public and private collections nationwide, and has been featured in Art 21 Magazine, CFile, Hyperallergic, and on PBS. Exhibitions include the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, CA.
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