moniquemeloche is pleased to present a group presentation by three artists who are exploring the relationship between place, history, and identity. Using the natural environment as a visual and thematic backdrop, the artists combine lush, tropical landscapes with figures to reveal, conceal, and upend dominant historical narratives around othered or false histories. Taken together, the artists offer a panoramic lens to create spaces for counter storytelling and a reclaiming of their land for radical inclusion and resistance.
Maia Cruz Palileo is a multidisciplinary artist whose paintings, installations, sculptures, and drawings navigate themes of migration and the permeable concept of home. Influenced by the oral history of their family’s arrival in the United States from the Philippines, as well as the fraught history between the two countries, Palileo infuses these narratives using both memory and imagination. Their current series resurrects Filipino images from various institutional archives, memorializing the legacy of invisible histories. Dense layers of foliage reveal mysterious figures shrouded by overgrowth and shadow. Each disappearing form echoes the selective means through which history is presented, a nod to colonization’s conscious erasure of lineages and records less suited to the more dominant narrative. These works present a reminder of the rich and diverse archive of stories saturated within the land we inhabit; a visual account through which the visible and invisible are interlaced, exploring the many possibilities of past lives both remembered and forgotten.
David Shrobe creates multi-layered portraits and assemblage paintings made in part from everyday materials that he finds in multiple geographies. He disassembles furniture and other discarded materials salvaged from the streets of Harlem and recombines them as supports for collage, painting, and drawing. Materials like old floor tiles or upholstery fabric are built up from the cultural landscape from which he and his ancestors have lived. In his current series, ‘Natura Symbiosis’ Shrobe engages ideas surrounding our origin story, exploration, nature, and traditional healing practices. Oval shaped orifices become portals into alternate realities where figures commingle and intertwine in his liminal spaces and whom for Shrobe, carry a kind of hybrid identity, their presence both regal and earthly, ghostly, and otherworldly. The subjects are entwined in lush tropical landscapes, sometimes appearing to hold plant life or fruit, other times as emerging out of or with the landscape; their bodily gestures setting a kind of action and unfolding narrative in play.
David Antonio Cruz explores the intersectionality of queerness and race through painting, sculpture, and performance. Focusing on queer, trans, and gender fluid communities of color, Cruz conveys his subjects both as specific individuals and as a monumental signifier for large and urgent systemic concerns. Cruz’s recent series explores the notion of ‘chosen family’, the nonbiological bonds between queer people based in mutual support and love. The portraits venerate the overall structure of queer relationships, captured through intimate moments of touch, strength, support, and celebration. Entwined amidst the dense foliage of Ceiba trees – native to the tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas and West Africa, including Cruz’s ancestral Puerto Rico, the subjects reveal themselves slowly, carefully rendered in wax pencil in recognition of the colossal strength developed within the roots of these kindred chosen family trees.