Leticia Bajuyo was once again invited to return to Franconia Sculpture Park this fall as a 2017 Open Studio Fellow. Born in Paducah, Kentucky, Leticia spent most of her childhood across the Ohio River in Metropolis, Illinois. She received her MFA from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 2001 and her BFA from the University of Notre Dame in 1998.
As a Franconia artist-in-residence in 2004, she created Islands, Yards, Worlds, two wooden fences curving toward each other and intervening through a hill in the landscape that allowed the viewer to walk up high enough to see across to the other side but not be able to physically pass. The space in between the two walls was occupied by two seats and a checkers game board on top of a concrete table with audio. Leticia’s work often reflects the in-between places of growing up in a bicultural and bilingual family in the Midwest and uses inviting, playful aspects of games or bright color to create a tension between spaces or conflicting experiences. Leticia’s new sculpture created this fall, Pop Goes the Weasel, utilizes chain link fence as another barrier that simultaneously isolates space while allowing the viewer to easily perceive the inside.
Leticia currently resides in Corpus Christi, Texas, were she is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Previously she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Notre Dame and a Professor of Art at Hanover College.
Describe your creative process and influences:
My creative process is a conceptually driven studio practice that finds voice as I consider material and scale options. As I design sculptures, I utilize recognizable and seemingly neutral commonplace objects that invite audiences to name, compare, and participate in theatrical re-arbitrations of value.
Tell us about your project at FSP:
In my artwork, Pop Goes the Weasel, chain-link fencing is the primary material for this sculptural installation. As I considered chain-link, ideas about the way the fencing is not as refined or as isolating as privacy fence or a stone wall for it is only spirals of wire that are connected together into a fabric. This surface is not sight or sound proof; it clearly divides and separates two sides but both sides can easily see the other.
The shape of Pop Goes the Weasel is a square room with chain-link walls. Reminiscent of a Jack-in-the-box toy, the turnstile in the center appears to be winding up the chains and thus adding tension to the fence. The fence, in turn, attempts to fulfill its role in maintaining boundaries and restricting movement; but the impasse between fence and turnstile results in a distorted stasis that suggests the unsustainability of the tense situation.
By using chain-link fencing, the audience is placed outside this small yard and can witness the effect of the turnstile on the fence. Questions that come to mind when I think about the turning of the turnstile include: Can a Jack-in-the-box go backwards? Can the box be removed before it collapses or implodes? How can this tug-of-war be resolved?
How does your time at Franconia compare to other residencies or projects you’ve completed?
Franconia’s approach to housing, teamwork, meals, and presentations creates a sense of community that can be felt within one’s first day on site. For this fellowship, I was on site for less than a week and am grateful for the support and generosity of the interns and staff. Often institutions require longer stays for such a fellowship; however, John Hock and the Franconia staff welcomed this short stay. Although I would have preferred to stay much longer, the staff worked with me to match my work schedule and to coordinate the public presentation, cooking schedule, and intern assistance to help the timeline.
Additionally, in comparison to other residencies, the funding of the Open Studio Fellowship not only made the travel from Texas to Minnesota and the execution of a new sculpture possible, it was enough that I could afford to bring Manami Ishimura, one of my graduate students at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi with me to assist on the fabrication and installation. She was warmly welcomed to the Franconia community, to join in the evening of public presentations, and to apply to Franconia in the future.
What did you learn at FSP? What was the biggest challenge?
I first requested November dates and learned that would be discouraged for it would likely be snowing by then. Listen to the locals when they recommend dates to avoid, due to weather. Even after moving up the install dates to the end of September (especially since I live in Southern Texas with palm trees and beaches) I still packed a hat and thermals for it was already cool enough to need a coat at times.
Another lesson learned, look out for your own sculpture. After adding an element, I managed to turn around and then run right into the new addition, giving me my first black eye (facepalm). My response for the following weeks to any inquires was “the first rule in Sculpture Fight Club is to not talk about Sculpture Fight Club.”
A final lesson, bring your favorite tools even if it means checking in a separate bag on the airplane.
And biggest challenge – Even though I knew it would be tight already, time was still the biggest challenge followed by weather for the last couple days I was at Franconia it rained making the installation site a big mud pie. But thanks to the teamwork, all was completed in time to make it to the airport.
Do you have any other projects coming up?
October-November, 2017, I exhibited a solo show at Texas A&M – Commerce. In February, I will be exhibiting in a Sculpture Invitational at Elmira College in Elmira, New York. In March, I will be in a group exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee with Land Report Collective. LRC is a collective of artists ranging from Wyoming to Tennessee. Also in early March, I will be traveling to Birmingham to install art at Space One Eleven and then visiting University of Alabama at Birmingham to present an artist lecture.
The Open Studio Fellowship Program is made possible by generous lead support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and many generous individuals, Thank You! Established in 2005, the Open Studio Fellowship Program supports the creation of new works by emerging and mid-career visual artists from across America.
Subscribe to Franconia’s blog and never miss out on a FSP Spotlight interview. Check out earlier 2017 Spotlight installments:
Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers (Dream the Combine)
Bridget Beck and Joy Feuer
Jordan Rosenow and April Martin
Nooshin Hakim Javadi and Pedram Baldari
and Ojars Feldbergs!