Sarah Rosalena merges Indigenous craft traditions with new media

The Columbus Museum of Art is pleased to present Sarah Rosalena: In All Directions, on view from September 9, 2023–February 4, 2024. Bringing together several major bodies of work by the artist, in addition to new textiles and sculptures created specifically for the exhibition, In All Directions showcases Rosalena’s merging of Indigenous craft traditions with new media, resulting in profound visions for feminist and anti-colonial worldbuilding on a cosmological scale.

With over 35 works dating from 2019, the exhibition centers Rosalena’s investigations into scholarly and corporate narratives around space exploration and interplanetary colonization. Informed by the artist’s scientific and historical research, Rosalena’s works fuse ceramic, textile, and beadwork with artificial intelligence, satellite data and digital fabrication to confront the geopolitical effects of climate change, dispossession and extractive economies. Created with tools such as 3D ceramic printers and bead looms, all of the works on view are woven through various constellations of hand and machine.

In All Directions creates expanding forms between Earth and Space by re-examining narratives of the past and imagining different futures that break the binary structures rooted in discovery,” Sara Rosalena said. “As a weaver, I am shaped by the origins, character, and 3D assembly of weaving. My work deconstructs technology with material interventions, creating hybrid objects that function between human and nonhuman, ancient and future, handmade and autonomous, beyond power structures rooted in colonialism.”

These bodies of work address the overlooked yet interconnected histories of craft, labor, and emerging technologies, using various entanglements of human- and machine-made production to destabilize colonial ideologies and forge new modes for understanding geography, materiality, and our shared universe. The exhibition’s title, In All Directions, represents the boundlessness of the universe and the irrelevance of compass points in a space beyond measurement. It leans on the artist’s cartographic mastery to imagine different futures outside of recognized binary structures, offering new forms of knowledge production beyond Western epistemologies.

Space Age Indigenous Art

The series Transposing a Form (2020) results from Rosalena’s collaboration with researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, comprising 3D-printed ceramic sculptures constructed from clay simulating the soil on Mars, marrying Indigenous coil pot techniques with advanced research in material science and space architecture. In another 3D ceramic print series, Pointing Star (2023), works reference the eight-pointed star motif used in Wixárika patterns as an entrance into the infinite, examining the idea of glitch and rethinking geospatial edges.

Above Below (2020) uses a neural network trained on satellite data to model geological transformations of Mars over millions of years, envisioning the planet’s past and its potential future as influenced by human intervention. By using Jacquard looms to weave this AI-generated imagery, the resulting works are a series of large-scale tapestries that visualize the melting and terraforming of Mars on one side, with the reverse displaying the devastation of climate change on Earth.

In Standard Candle (2021-2023), Rosalena examines the role of women’s labor and colonialism in the advancement of Western scientific thought, featuring woven and beaded textiles based on photographic plates from the 100-inch Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Drawing upon Indigenous beadwork techniques and the gendered histories of craft as a discipline, Rosalena forges juxtapositions which highlight the dispossessive practices that have supported developments in astronomy and planetary science.

In addition, the works respond to the erasure of the women “computers” whose calculations supported scientific advancement in the 1920s and enabled Edwin Hubble to prove the existence of the universe beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

Sarah Rosalena: In All Directions is a collaboration between the CMA and the Department of History of Art at The Ohio State University. Organized by professor Kris Paulsen, the exhibition is the collective effort of her 2022 curatorial practice seminar students: Maika Kagawa Bahr, Christine Fashion, Julia Harth, Mia Kivel, Hannah McCasland, Sterling Nix, April Riddle and Amanda Tobin Ripley.

“Sarah Rosalena’s seductive, ambiguous objects appear to be simultaneously traditional and futuristic, handmade and autonomous, organic and artificial, earthly and otherworldly. She works in the blurred boundary between these binaries, showing that they are not just the arbitrary divisions that maintain oppressive structures and values, but that they also foreclose other ways of seeing the world and our entanglements within it,” Paulsen said. “Working on this exhibition and catalog have been foundational and transformative experiences for the student curators and for me as well. We look forward to sharing In All Directions with the community.”

Exhibition Details

Sarah Rosalena: In All Directions

On View at the Columbus Museum of Art at The Pizzuti
632 Park St, Columbus, OH 43215

September 9, 2023–February 4, 2024

Visitor Hours:

Fri–Sun: 10:00 AM–5:00 PM
Mon–Thurs: Closed

About Sarah Rosalena

Sarah Rosalena is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher based in Los Angeles. She is an Assistant Professor of Computational Craft and Haptic Media at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Rosalena is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award, the LACMA Art + Technology Lab Grant, the Steve Wilson Award from Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology, the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation Art Prize, the Artadia Award and the Craft Futures Fund Grant from the Center for Craft. 

Recent solo exhibitions include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) at Mount Wilson Observatory, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Clockshop and Blum & Poe Gallery. Her textiles and ceramics are in the collection of LACMA.

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