Pasadena ArtCenter Graduate Creates Tribute Installation to Honor Great-Great-Grandmother Using Mirrors and Light

Published on Jul 13, 2022

Pasadena-based artist Marcus Zúñiga’s distinctive installation ‘chuparosa’ (hummingbird) utilizes hexagon-shaped mirrors and video projections “to analyze the intersection of place, time, and history.”

The original installation, set up in Mimbres, New Mexico, reflects the environment onto itself during the solar noon hour. 

“I was researching my own genealogy and I went to Mimbres in Southwest New Mexico where my great-great-grandmother was born and I set up a sculpture there to think about her life as a cultural contribution to the contemporary environment there today,” Zúñiga told Pasadena Now

Zúñiga calls the installation currently on view in Albuquerque at 516arts “an extended version” of his original sculpture in Mimbres. 

Chuparosa is currently featured at “Art Meets History: Technologies of the Spirit” exhibit at 516 ARTS through September 3, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Instead of using mirrors to reflect the environment, he used them for the installation to reflect a video projection.  

“The mirrors reflect everything in that space and what they mostly reflect is the video projection on the other side of the space where the work is.” 

“The projection is this layered video that is achieving a similar effect that the mirror had in Mimbres where the mirror was able to reflect multiple perspectives all into one image, mostly uniting the image of the sky with the image of the land.” 

“And together, the sculpture and the video projection and the way that they shift light in the space kind of creates this atmosphere that I think really represents the essence of that remembrance ceremony outside of when it happened,” Zúñiga said.

Zúñiga created the artwork in honor of the contributions of his great-great-grandmother Canuta Gutíerrez Torrez to the cultural landscape of New Mexico. A citizen of Mimbres, Torrez died at noon in 1926.

Originally from Hatch, New Mexico, Zúñiga received his fine arts degree from the University of New Mexico. 

He had moved to Pasadena four years ago to attend graduate school at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design and has remained in the city since. 

An artist working primarily with sculpture, Zúñiga said he has a keen interest in cosmology. 

“My work is really centered around the subjectivity of the cosmos which is why I find it really pertinent to be in somewhere like Pasadena. I get a lot of energy from being so close in proximity to the work at Caltech (California Institute of Technology) and JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory).” 

Zúñiga’s work is premised in the process he called “relearning the cosmos,” where he brings together ancient and contemporary conceptions about the universe to form a more cultural interpretation. 

His artworks have been featured in curated exhibitions in Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, and Main Museum, Los Angeles.

“I get inspired by keeping up with the current developments in astronomy. A lot of my work recently has been thinking about the James Webb Space Telescope and the next generation of primary mirrors and major observatories and telescopes that all use a lot of hexagonal geometry.” 

To view the works of Zúñiga, visit: http://www.marcusZúñ

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