Dario Robleto: Chrysanthemum Anthems

March 11, 2007—June 17, 2007
Exhibition Reception: Sunday, March 11, 2007; 3 to 5 pm

San Antonio-based artist Dario Robleto focuses on symbols of grief and mourning connected to U.S. soldiers of war. The works in this traveling exhibition are based upon material culture produced during the early development of the United States, the artist integrating artifacts from wars that have taken place on U.S. soil. Robleto deliberately sought out museums in areas where Revolutionary and Civil War battles were fought, making The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum an ideal venue. Dario Robleto: Chrysanthemum Anthems was organized by Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The exhibition reception will be held at The Aldrich, located at 258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT, on Sunday, March 11, 2007, from 3 to 5 pm. Round-trip transportation from New York City is available; please call the Museum at 203.438.4519 for reservations.

additional images | click to enlarge

Dario Robleto When Pincushions Are Political, 2005
Homemade paper (pulp made from soldier's letters home from various wars, ink retrieved from letters, cotton), colored paper, carved bone buttons, needles, thread from soldier's uniforms from various wars, ribbon, colored pencil, pen, foam core
31 x 23 inches
Private collection, Houston

Dario Robleto Obsequies in Albany, 2006
Homemade paper (pulp made from soldiers’ letters home from various wars, ink retrieved from letters, cotton), colored paper, thread and fabric from soldiers’ uniforms from various wars, cartes de visite, lace and fabric from a mourning dress, hair flowers braided by a Civil War widow, lantana stalks, silk, ribbon, pen, foam core
33 x 27 x 3.5 inches

Dario Robleto Your Lullaby Will Find A Home In My Head, 2005
Hair braids made from a stretched and curled audio tape recording of Sylvia Plath reciting “November Graveyard,” homemade paper (pulp made from soldiers’ letters to mothers and daughters from various wars, ink retrieved from letters, sepia), excavated and melted bullet lead, carved ribcage bone and ivory, mourning dress fabric and thread, silk, mourning frame from another’s loss, walnut, glass
23.5 x 16 x 13 inches

This solo exhibition of sculpture inventively integrates the ephemeral by-products of past wars—excavated shrapnel and bullet lead, soldiers' uniforms, telegrams and home-bound love letters, mourning clothing, and hair lockets—and harkens back to the aesthetics of material culture in antebellum America. However, the artist smelts, pulps, shreds, and otherwise transforms the original ephemera to create the sculptures featured in this exhibition.

Coming at the end of a trilogy of exhibitions based upon the experiences of an anonymous, time-traveling soldier, Robleto's newest work brings the soldier home to encounter the ramifications of war upon the family. Robleto asks us to imagine how, over time, the missing soldier served as an inspiration for his counterpart—a waiting wife, a sister, a mother—to produce the objects in the exhibition. This idea of healing and redemption through creative production is recognized through the form and content of the works and, also, through the artists own process of creation.

Robleto is interested in the theory and practice of mixing and sampling; to enter his world is to understand that "everything is made from something." Quoting Barry Schwabsky in an Artforum feature, his work acts "as if to claim that a person's soul must be re-embodied in the flowers that have sprouted from his corpse." The artist's extreme care and craftsmanship make his work convincing as actual artifacts. But Robleto's intention is neither to deceive us nor to evoke nostalgia for the past; rather, it is to insist upon and reinforce the vital relevance of the past to the present, and to our future.

Top of page: Dario Robleto, Obsequies in Albany, 2006