Gabriela Salazar

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What is my work about?

My work examines the modes and levels of knowledge (from the intimacies of the body to the socio-politico-geographical histories creating narrative around that body) that are transmitted, visibly and invisibly, via structure and stuff. I approach the built environment as a framework for site‑responsive installations and sculpture that engage the relational and associative possibilities inherent in material, architecture, selfhood, and place. Throughout runs a fascination with the possibility of site; the ways architecture is (mis)repurposed towards contemporary needs and uses; rule-making (and bending) as strategy for uncovering idealizations and uncertainty in experience and expectations; intentionality, ambition, limit, and failure.

Artist Statement

Through sculpture and interventions, I reincarnate the built environment as a found object to be examined and interpreted. Previous sculptures put shims, levels, and other tools used to make or measure “correct” in relational situations, kindred to our own attempts and experience through self-adjustment. These works are part of an ongoing series that uses the wedge, a “simple machine,” as form, reshaping remnants of past projects, found objects, and unrealized ideas into “usefulness.” The wedge—traditionally used as a shim to fill a gap; or as a ramp, a multiplier of forces—here redoubles—as allegory and recovery.

In my installations, through simple interventions and correspondences—utilizing a variety of approaches including painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, and video—rooms become sculpture/objects with a set of specific properties, referents, and possibilities that can then be “re-played” in iterations. The interventions ask the surfaces of a site to support metaphorical, situational, or experienced aspects of their underlying structure. In Site Set the room is translated—via the “facts” of its measurements and dimensions—into a corresponding, color-coded “set” of objects. This material can be performed sculpturally adinfinitum, allowing for plasticity itself to become a term of both the room and of the sculpture. I also respond to specific histories that leave visible tells. In 86 Holes, the floor of the gallery was riddled with existing cylindrical perforations—the result of the tenants trying to drain water from a persistent leaking roof that would puddle on the floor (the landlord worked on the floor below…). I filled the holes with blue wood putty, creating an aesthetic situation from the “fix” or repair; simultaneously, that repair-of-the-repair was transcribed into a template/diagram (also hanging in gallery) that was moved from the site and, can potentially be, “repeated.”

A site-dependent public work, In Advance of a Storm, also investigates minimalist strategies of variation of form and rule-making, while engaging pop interests in the cultural readymade and symbolic associations. Same-but-different, architecture-but-not, didactic-but-surreal, of-a-place-and-of-nowhere; the two modular wooden buildings, askew on their bases at eye level (to-be-viewed-but-not-entered), realize the descriptions made by my parents (both architects) in playing The Cube Game, a pop-psychology self-knowledge exercise. This conflating of ready-made and idiosyncrasy, of the “found” that is chosen and the “found” that is predetermined, is a parallel to the navigations of life through, with, and begetting structures, both physical and psychological.

The wedge reappears, multiplied, in My Lands are Islands, an installation that sets up a stage for personal and historical influences of architecture, urbanism, colonialism, minimalism, and material to play out. This series of wedges are made of a rudimentary clay of used coffee grounds, an ingredient that comes from my family’s history with Puerto Rico’s coffee trade; they are presented on configured stacks of white glazed brick, a material used in the late modernist, 1950-60’s housing construction of NYC. The coffee-clay is unstable at this scale and the wedges collapse and deteriorate over the course of the exhibition. They perform this collapse at a stubborn rate; too slow to watch but frustrating to any sense of the permanent or archival. This cycle of binding and breaking apart is a foil to the temporalities of both the ever-changing city and the timelessness central to Minimalism’s grand narrative. As “pedestals,” the stacks reference urban architecture while also playing with archetypal forms of minimalist sculpture, in essence opening up an intersection between their simplicity as Ur-Object and the heterogeneity of the social/cultural city.

Curriculum Vitae


2011             Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture

2009             M.F.A. Rhode Island School of Design

2003             B.A. Yale University


Exhibition Record


2015    My Lands are Islands | NurtureArt, Brooklyn, NY | Curator: Marco Antonini.

2014    In Advance of a Storm | The Lighthouse Works, Public Art Fellowship, Fishers Island, NY

2012    Site Set | Luchsinger Gallery at Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT

For Closure (Outdoors, the Bronx) | Bronx River Arts Center (DOT Urban Arts Program) Bronx, NY

2010    Robert Moses, He Knows Us | flatbreadaffair, Brooklyn, NY



2015    How to Tell if Your Krill Oil Supplements Are Ripping You Off | Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY

Ice Storm | The Willows, Brooklyn NY

2014    Light Box | Life on Mars Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2013    Pavel Acosta, Livia Corona, Ignacio Lang, Gabriela Salazar | Sgorbati Projects, New York, NY

La Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump | El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY

Middle Zone | Projekt722, Brooklyn, NY | Curator: Corydon Cowansage.

Building Materials | Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT | Organized by Lucas Blalock and Jim Hyde.

Mixtape, Artspace Gala | Artspace, New Haven, CT

We Are Still Here: Art IN the Bronx | Armory Show Satellite, Bronx River Art Center at the Andrew Freedman Home, Bronx, NY

New York I Love You Sometimes | Classic Six, New York, NY | Organized by George Terry.

2012    Building Material | Control Room, Los Angeles, CA | Organized by Lucas Blalock.

Exhibit A | Calico Brooklyn, Brooklyn, NY

GO Brooklyn Museum Open Studios | 67 West Street, Brooklyn, NY

Yaddo Open Studio | Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY

Let’s Keep It Together: Coherence and Cohesion: Gabriela Salazar, Siobhan Landry, and Ben Janse | Coworkers Projects, New York, NY | Curator: Yulia Topchiy.

Synaesthesia | Present Company, Brooklyn, NY | Curator: Chad Stayrook.

2011    Strength in Numbers | SCOPE Art Fair, Miami, FL

The Build Up | Fowler Arts Collective, Brooklyn, NY

Construction Sight | Artspace, New Haven, CT | Curators: Lindsay Miller, Ilana Harris Babou, and Nadia Westenburg.

Reformation 2011 | Former Skowhegan Jail, Skowhegan, ME | Curator: Michael Rocco Ruggiero.

Shells, Nests, and Corners | Meramec Art Gallery, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis, MO and Backspace, Peoria, IL | Curator: Ken Wood.

Year Zero | Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Queens, NY | Curator: Louise Barry.

Tompkins Projects West: Works on Paper | Dan Graham, Los Angeles, CA

2010    Keep the Home Fires Burning | Fowler Arts Collective, Brooklyn, NY

Blitz | Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

The Late Works: Christopher K. Ho & Kevin Zucker | The Fisher Press, Santa Fe, NM

The Drawing Show | Tompkins Projects, Brooklyn, NY

2009    East|West Artist Exchange | Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA | Curator: Christina Connett.

Geography of Imagination | Adam House Gallery, New York, NY | Curator: Phong Bui, Publisher of The Brooklyn Rail.

Interactive | Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL

MFA Thesis Exhibition, Rhode Island School of Design | Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, RI

Lather, Rinse, Repeat (as Desired) | Sol Koffler Gallery, Providence, RI

Dialogue: Bauhaus | Chace Center, RISD Museum, Providence, RI

2008    A Varied Terrain | Chace Center, RISD Museum, Providence, RI

Graduate Painting Departmental Exhibition | Sol Koffler Gallery, Providence, RI

Boston Young Contemporaries | Gallery 808, Boston, MA | Jurors: Jackie Gendel, Tom McGrath, and Roger White.


Grants, Fellowships, and Awards

2015    ACE Grant (Carousel) | Rema Hort Mann Foundation, New York, NY

2014    Workspace Residency | Lower Manhattan Cultural Council , New York, NY

The Lighthouse Works Residency and Public Art Fellowship, Fishers Island, NY

Rema Hort Mann Grant Nominee

Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant Nominee

2013    Smack Mellon “Hot Picks”

2012    Yaddo Residency (Louise Bourgeois Residency for a Sculptor)

2011    Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture Grant | RISD, Skowhegan

2010    Studio LLC Participant | Jamaica Center for Learning and the Arts, Queens, NY

2009    MacDowell Colony Fellowship

Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Residency (Alternate), New York, NY

Award of Excellence | Rhode Island School of Design | Jurors: Mark Milloff and Norm Paris.

2008    Award of Excellence | Rhode Island School of Design | Juror: Ian Berry, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

2003    Berkeley College Arts Prize | Yale University

2002    Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship | Yale Summer School of Art


2013+ Carousel | Travelling slide projector as gallery, ongoing series| Curated with Mary Choueiter.

2012             Optotype | 92YTribeca, New York, NY | Organized with Lucas Blalock and juried by Carrie Springer, Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum of Art.

2009             Lather, Rinse, Repeat (as Desired) | Sol Koffler Gallery | Organized with Elizabeth Ferrill.

2008             A Varied Terrain | Chace Center | RISD Museum | Organized the first student show in the new addition to the RISD Museum, with fellow students Martin Smick and Mayen Alcantara. Juror: Judith Tannenbaum, Curator of Contemporary Art, RISD Museum.



2015             Chamberlain, Colby. Catalogue essay, My Lands are Islands, January 9.

Sutton, Benjamin. “A Miniature City Built on Unstable Coffee Grounds,”, January 16.
Killary, Katie. “Back Like Never Before: Top Art Openings To Get You Going In 2015!”,, January 8.

2014             Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1; Dedalus Foundation, 2014.

2013             Aletti, Vince. “Goings on About Town: Art | El Museo’s La Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump,” The New Yorker, July 29.
Peña, Arthur. “Gabriela Salazar interviewed by Arthur Peña,”, June 15.

Kedmey, Karen. “Masks and Materials at El Museo,”, October 13.

“Exhibitions: The Lookout,” Art in America (online), August.

Cotter, Holland. “A Constellation of Identities, Winking and Shifting: Museo del Barrio’s ‘Bienal 2013’ Explores Self and Origins,” The New York Times, June 13.

Regatao, Gisele. “A Disco Ball Piñata and the KKK as Emerging Latino Art,” WNYC News [and radio broadcast], June 11.
Mainwaring, Madison. “A Gallery Undone: The role of the curator rethought on the Upper East Side,” Her Royal Majesty, February 4.

2012             Wagley, Catherine. “Even Pressure,” LA Weekly, November 8.
Vartanian, Hrag. “GO Bushwick, Gowanus, and Greenpoint: Artapalooza,”, September 14.

Chavez, Holly Chen. “Practical Manual to Go! + Brooklyn Must See Studios,”, September 6.

Figueroa, Xavier. “Triangle at the Square,” Bronx Art Guide, June 17.

Estevez, Martin. “Greenpoint Column, Doors to the Bronx,”, April 10.

Video article, “Artistic Comment on Housing Bubble Unveiled at West Farms Square Plaza,” NY1 News, April 9.

2011             Steinert, Hans. Video interview with curator Ken Wood, “Nests, Shells, and Corners [PART 1]”, The Montage, July 26.

Volner, Ian. “At Home With Moses: Robert Moses, He Knows Us,” The Architect’s Newspaper, February 15.

2010             Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, 2010 Studio LLC: Year Zero (catalog). Jamaica, NY.

Rebecca Pristoop, “Robert Moses, He Knows Us” (supplementary brochure), flatbreadaffair, Brooklyn, NY.

Prescott Trudeau, Art Within Reach: From the WPA to the Present, Children’s Museum for the Arts, New York, NY.

2009             Bill Van Siclen, “RISD graduate show embraces the new austerity,” The Providence Journal, May 21.



2014             Tilted Arc | Invited Contributor | March.

2013             The Theater of Abstraction: Patricia Treib at Wallspace | | December 12.

2010             Journal of Contemporary Aesthetics |

“Another One Bites the Dust! Urban decay and demolition as a compressed and heightened experience of the sublime ruin, and some ways in which this modern ruin has affected the use of the vernacular of the ruin in contemporary art.” Volume 8 (2010).

Color & Color Magazine | Invited Contributor | Black & White Issue

The Report, by Jessica Francis Kane | Endpaper artwork: Published by Graywolf Press, August 2010.

The Last Works: Christopher K. Ho and Kevin Zucker | Invited Contributor | The Fisher Press, Santa Fe, NM