One Work: Beatriz Cortez’s “Ilopango, Stela A”

Evoking meteorites, igneous rocks, and Mayan artifacts, Beatriz Cortez’s stained, weathered metallic sculptures on view at Commonwealth & Council in Los Angeles forge historic and thematic ties between the circulation of geological matter and the motion of individuals throughout Earth’s floor. One significantly highly effective piece, Ilopango, Stela A (2022), extra particularly considers how pure disasters and local weather change have altered the course of civilizations worldwide. Echoing the type of a Mayan stela, the sculpture is embellished with symbols loosely referencing the AD 431 eruption of Ilopango, a volcano that’s now a caldera crammed by certainly one of El Salvador’s largest lakes. Cortez, an El Salvador native, has researched the volcano’s far-reaching impression: it eradicated Mayan settlements, rendered the realm uninhabitable for many years, deposited tephra as far-off as Greenland, and sure triggered the planet’s temperature to chill.

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Walls covered with images of historic

The artist’s selection of medium, welded metal, dovetails with this theme of geological transformation. Charred welds—which might historically be sanded down and de-emphasized—right here purchase an eerie magnificence, crisscrossing the sculpture’s silvery floor to conjure visions of lava rivers and geographic boundaries equivalent to tectonic plates. Drawings made with a welder and resembling deep burns depict an ash-spewing volcano on the higher left, adopted by a sequence of summary glyphs impressed by a Mesoamerican pyramid, a Mongol hut, ice caves, and a Roman archway. Associated in form, these inscriptions hyperlink collectively totally different eras and places, chatting with the best way volcanic particles journey to far-flung lands and set off long-term modifications to the planet’s topography and inhabitants. Small footprints towards the stela’s base result in a simplified city skyline that Cortez frames as an homage to fashionable Los Angeles and its Central American diasporic communities. In investigating historical patterns of world migration and geographic change, the artist calls consideration to the interconnected nature of human vulnerability.

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