Light from Water: Heidi Howard & Esteban Cabeza de Baca, with Liz Phillips
Light from Water presents new works by Heidi Howard and Esteban Cabeza de Baca that share a deep-seated connection with the natural world. Featured in the exhibition are collaborative works by both artists, as well as Cabeza de Baca’s layered landscape paintings, Howard’s portraits that incorporate plant life and natural settings and a Wavetable sculpture by sound-art pioneer Liz Phillips. Inspired by the views and vegetation of the Aquatic Garden, several works on display were created at Wave Hill this summer. The spirit of collaboration is integral to the work of the artists in Light from Water, acknowledging the greater communities within which they feel a sense of belonging. Howard’s portraits are informed by dialogue with family members and loved ones, and their installations and self-portraits show a holistic embrace of our environmental surroundings. Cabeza de Baca’s scenic paintings and sculptures portray the land itself as kin or ancestor, influenced by Indigenous views and cultural ways of knowing.
Of Indigenous Chicano ancestry, Cabeza de Baca was raised in California near the Mexico border, while Howard, the child of two artists (Phillips is Howard’s mother), was born and raised in New York City. Currently, Howard and Cabeza de Baca live and work together in Long Island City, Queens. Their individual art practices retain distinct approaches and styles; however, they have spent most of their time painting together since meeting in 2012 as graduate students in Columbia University’s MFA program. In the last two to three years, they have also been making collaborative work together as they have gradually influenced each other’s creative practices. Howard has incorporated plein air, or outdoor observational painting, in their work, and Cabeza de Baca has introduced more figurative elements into his landscape views and sculptural work. As the exhibition title suggests, Light from Water contemplates reflection and refraction, seeing in and through, while casting back. This exhibition asks us to reimagine our relationship to nature—to see ourselves as part of, rather than separate from, the living and non-living elements in the world’s collective ecosystem.
Light From Water is organized by Gabriel de Guzman, Director of Arts and Chief Curator, with Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger, Curator of Visual Arts.