In her first solo exhibition in Taller Puertorriqueño Lorenzo Homar Gallery, Michelle Angela Ortiz presents Quizás Mañana (Maybe Tomorrow), a show that examines the power of familial connection, place, and story. This exhibition features a new installation, light boxes, and paintings that speak of “visual artifacts,” items that she sees imbued by the characteristics of the person who used them.

Ortiz’s work in the show expresses the pain and the hopes that are carried from one generation in a family to the other. It discusses the anguish of loss and the reconciliation that is brought about through memory. Her work through light hints at the promise that the future will bring. It also discusses the bonds of motherhood that is passed to daughters.

Exhibition album

The title of the exhibition is a reference to the phrase “Quizás Mañana Nuestro Llanto Queda Atrás” from the song “Amor Adios” a song that her father used to sing. It is a ballad of longing and a wish that the person returns to a better time without suffering. It was the song that he sang to his father who lived a difficult life.

A first generation Philadelphian, Michelle Angela Ortiz is a visual artist, skilled muralist, and community arts educator. Her art depicts people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. Through painting, printmaking, and community arts practices, she creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues affecting individuals and communities alike.

For over fifteen years, Ortiz continues to be an active educator in using the arts as a tool for communication to bridge communities. As a muralist, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works nationally and internationally. Since 2008, Ortiz has led community building and art for social change public art projects both independently in Costa Rica and Ecuador and through the United States Embassy as a Cultural Envoy in Fiji, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, and Honduras. In 2016, she completed the first U.S. State funded public art project since the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

In 2017, Ortiz was awarded the Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellowship, which recognizes artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities small and large. She is a fellow of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fund for the Arts, recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award and Art & Change Grant.

February 9, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm / PAFA Learn more here

“Velarde has had major solo exhibitions from Lima, Peru to Kansas City and New York. Why she has not had a significant show of her work in her hometown of Philadelphia is curious, especially since in the last several years she has been awarded many prestigious grants here, including the Pew and two Leeway Foundation awards; she is also well-known among local curators and fellow artists.”

JenniferZarro, TheArtBlog, Dec. 21, 2015


The Complicit Eye, Kukuli Velarde’s first major solo show of painting in the US, deconstructs ideals of female beauty

Kukuli Velarde. Untitled poem, New York, 1992
Kukuli Velarde. “Untitled poem,” New York, 1992 The poem was written during the 500 year anniversary of Europe’s arrival in the Americas.

from colonization to the local barrio. Velarde dissects the construction and consumption of beauty in Western culture, exposing the connections between beauty and violence. Through painting, sculpture, and performance, Velarde confronts the reality of female objectification, oppressive beauty standards, and the marginalization of women of color.

At the heart of this exhibition is the notion of complicity, the complicated give-and-take of acceptance and resistance. In a series of life-sized full-body portraits painted on aluminum, Velarde presents herself in multiple guises–the would-be pinup beauty, the goddess, the cultural stereotype, the comic-book superhero–always occupying the position of the observant, self-aware outsider. Her performative self-portraits draw attention to the ways in which we are complicit in the production and promulgation of ideas about femininity–which have substantial effects on the lives of women.

Velarde weaves together a critique of beauty, power, and culture by manipulating her image, inviting viewers to see aspects of themselves in the artist’s multiple selves. In Pinup Wanna Be (2005), she paints herself as a desirable woman, standing awkwardly on tiptoe with her back arched– if only she would make some modifications. Transparent Mylar taped atop the painting offers some “improvements” to her body, elongating her legs and enlarging her breasts. With a winking nod, this portrait confronts the viewer with the cosmetic editing–be it Photoshop or surgery–that is so ubiquitous in images of women. Similarly, in Venusina (2009), Velarde envisions herself as Botticelli’s Venus. Although her skin has been whitened and her hair turned reddish blonde, Velarde maintains her proportions, small breasts, and long torso. Most compelling is the artist’s face, which stares sternly at her viewers, challenging us to accept her charms. Both works expose the tension between real and ideal that is played out on women’s bodies.

Velarde’s self-portraits perform not only her identity as a woman but also as a Peruvian. In Hispanic Ready-Made (2010), she re-envisions herself as life-sized paper dolls, complete with subversive accessories–on the left, she holds a pair of maracas and wears a giant fruit headdress, and on the right, she wears a Mexican-style sombrero while carrying a couple of pre-Columbian ceramic figures by their exaggerated male genitalia. Here, Velarde takes the reins, asserting her agency through the playful manipulation of these stereotyped tropes of Latino identity. She becomes a comic-book superhero in Superuvian (2005), taking on the role of the witness and critical observer of the process of gentrification, which empties neighborhoods of undesirable residents–usually lower-income people of color.

Velarde’s goal is not merely to expose our complicity, but also to signal to the viewers – especially women–to imagine alternatives to oppressive cultural norms. A crucial element of The Complicit Eye will be Velarde’s one-on-one engagement with community members through interactive workshops and a participatory performance in the gallery. Velarde will work with students at both Taller and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts(PAFA), engaging them about the broad themes of her work as well as the technical aspects of its creation. Also, Velarde will draw in freehand in marker on the wall of the gallery for the first ten days, creating an interactive mural that will be painted over after the exhibition. Velarde’s performance is about more than producing a composition; it is about building connections with people and communicating about our shared experiences. The Complicit Eye offers a unique opportunity to do just this through its powerful work and collaborative programming.

About the Artist

Born in Cuzco, Peru and residing in Philadelphia, Kukuli Velarde is a painter and sculptor whose career spans four decades and two continents. Primarily known for her feminist reinterpretations of Colonial painting and Precolumbian sculpture, Velarde’s work brings together the personal and the political. After studying at the National University of San Marcos in Lima and the San Carlos Academy at the Autonomous National University of Mexico, she moved to New York City in 1987, obtaining her BFA from Hunter College in 1992. She transitioned from painting to ceramics in the 1990s, moving to Philadelphia and becoming the Artist in Residence at the Clay Studio in 1997–98. In Philadelphia, Velarde has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a PEW Fellowship in 2003, a Knight Fellowship in 2009, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015. In 2004, Velarde returned to painting.  The Complicit Eye will be the first solo show of her paintings in Philadelphia.
Check out the exhibition’s photographic documentation here
Reviews of the exhibition:


Velarde’s Interview

Kukuli Velarde’s 11/26/18 WHYY Interview with Peter Crimmins

Mural Schedule

Velarde will be working on her marker mural, Vitruviana y Vitruvianita,  on  12/14 and 12/19 from 10:00 AM to 1 PM to December 6, 2018.  Check out the stop motion photography of the making of the mural here.

Revisit this page for updates to her mural schedule

Thank you to our supporters

Kukuli Velarde: The Complicit Eye is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Edna W. Andrade Fund at the Philadelphia Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and the members and supporters of Taller Puertorriqueño.

Kukuli Velarde: El Ojo Cómplice es posible con contribuciones de La Dotación Nacional para las Artes (NEA), La Fundación Andy Warhol para las Arte Plásticas,  el Fondo Edna Andrade en la Fundación de Filadelfia, el Concilio para las Artes de Pensilvania (PA Council on the Arts), y los miembros y donantes del Taller Puertorriqueño.