3-channel video installation. 
Mylar emergency blanket, Golden leaf, and Venezuelan arepa corn flour package plastic on wood, 3 LCD 40” TVs, acrylic, marker. 53 min loop. Variable dimensions.

9 Ways From Sunday
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
St. Louis, United States

Photo: Richard Sprengeler

When I left Venezuela and arrived in the United States, I found myself in a strange land, surrounded by faces of strangers. I, like many other Venezuelans, left our country escaping from a humanitarian crisis caused by political oppression. The impact that this uprooting had on me was beyond what I expected. In a land where everything was new and different, I received everything that seemed Venezuelan as un fresquito, a sudden comforting feeling of relief. Encouraged by my own experience, I wanted to create works that would give a fresquito to other Venezuelan exiles. 

To me, making arepas— thick corn tortillas that are part of Venezuelan daily life—is a ritual that brings Venezuelans together as a community and connects us with our place of origin. In my video installation, Sanctuary, I portray Venezuelan immigrants making arepas in their kitchens, hoping other Venezuelans feel a fresquito when they encounter this work.

Sanctuary is a 3-channel video installation consisting of a room painted in deep blue, where three wall sculptures are hung on three contiguous walls. Each piece contains a video monitor mounted vertically and framed by an assemblage that resembles Baroque architectural elements used in catholic churches in my home city, Caracas, Venezuela. Each of the 3 video channels shows a Venezuelan immigrant in Missouri making of arepas.

This project was possible thanks to the Graduate Production Grant and the CityStudioSTL Award, conferred by the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.