A public garden & cultural center

Emily Oliveira

Pictured above: Emily Oliveira, Mundo Irrealis (Wish You Were Here), 2019 (detail) Handmade rugs, digital print on satin,  two-channel video, hand-dyed cotton, found  furniture, fluid acrylic. Courtesy of the artist. Photos 1-3 by Stefan Hagen.

2019 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellow

Sunroom Project Space 2019 | September 15–October 27

Emily Oliveira creates a vibrant installation using large-scale textile pieces, sculpture,  and video to transform the Sunroom into a devotional space for a de-colonial, queer  utopia. Inspired by the flora of Wave Hill during her 2019 Winter Workspace residency  and by science fiction—particularly the writings of feminist authors Octavia Butler,  Ursula K. Le Guin and Marge Piercy—Oliveira imagines an earth no longer constrained  by capitalism. Reflecting on queer futurity and time travel, Oliveira constructs a narrative  in which borders, binaries and hierarchies dissolve, and the worlds of the living and dead blend indistinguishably. Oliveira’s installation broaches and reframes socio-political, cultural and economic topics that touch upon gender, class, race and sexuality. 

The title refers to a world that has not yet occurred. Oliveira is drawn to science fiction because it “elasticizes our perception of the world as it is and, more importantly, as it could be.” The artist illustrates a complex storyline in the translucent fabrics covering the light-filled windows, producing an ethereal, stained-glass effect. The textiles depict  a narrative in which humans are rescued from an apocalyptic earth and transported to a paradisiacal future. When the humans return to earth, they strive to rebuild their home, only to discover that the distant “alien” utopia was, in fact, the future earth that they themselves are building. They must then travel back in time to rescue their past selves from the dystopian earth.|

A series of handmade rugs are installed to form an altarpiece that references both  the space’s arched windows and Catholic devotional art. Portrayed are a body-builder goddess and other mythological characters. Using textiles, the artist critiques the erasure of marginalized workers. Labor has the power to transform mass-produced materials into sacred objects and to transform the body in ways that subvert societal conventions of femininity. The artist's video A Vision of the Leisure-Dome focuses on the absence of labor—the artist and her friends lounge in a technicolor utopia. In our mortal reality, the power and ubiquity of capitalism seem inescapable, but Oliveira's paradise is free from these constraints. Oliveira quotes Ursula K. Le Guin: "Any human power  can be resisted and changed by human beings.”

Winter Workspace 2019
Glyndor Gallery | February 19–March 31

In the winter of 2019, Oliveira worked on a series of silk garments inspired by the writings of Octavia Butler and by the plant life at Wave Hill in preparation for her Sunroom Project. Oliveira works with domestic craft and textile materials to create sculpture and installation that explore themes of class, race, femininity and gender. Oliveira looks forward to incorporating the worn garments in public performances at Wave Hill, engaging with the public and discussing issues of textile and labor with studio visitors.

Oliveira is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and studied performance at Brown University. She was a participant in the 2018 Museum of Arts and Design Artist Studios Residency Program, and has exhibited and performed in venues including Java Project, Paradice Palase, SOHO20 and SPRING/BREAK Art Show, all in New York.

Lenda Murray, 2016, embroidery floss, clam shells, collage, image courtesy of artist. 

SUN, SEPT 14, 2-4:30PM
Fall Exhibitions Reception
Meet the Artist

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.