Antiquity in the Americas was founded by Malina Buturović, Kathleen Cruz, and Linda McNulty Perez in Fall 2018. Since then, the group has grown into a collaborative network of individuals pursuing the study of antiquity in the Americas in various ways. Below, we feature a revolving selection of the work from which our current events have benefitted.
Photo Credit: Alex Barber
Katarina ‘Katie’ Guzman was born and raised in San Antonio - a South Texas native, she grew up surrounded by the unique and rich history, art, and writing present in her home city. Katarina has been constantly fascinated with history, both personal and social; especially its effect on the relationships people have to culture, to a place, and to each other. A printmaker by trade, she often uses traditional and non-traditional printmaking techniques in her work to explore the themes of personal and societal relationships to history, as well as to examine the historical narrative itself. Katarina graduated in 2019 from the University of St. Thomas in Houston where she received her B.A. in Studio Arts with a concentration in printmaking. Since graduating, Katarina has been fortunate to work as an artist in residence with community based organizations such as Project Row Houses in Houston. Since the completion of her residency, she has moved back to her home city of San Antonio where she now lives and works.
Katarina Guzman created the following pieces, collectively titled Síntesis/σύνθεσις, in collaboration with Antiquity in the Americas in anticipation of our conference in April 2021, "Contact, Colonialism, and Comparison" - for more information on the conference, please visit our "Events" page. Clicking on each thumbnail below offers a full look at each piece, and Katarina's accompanying artist's statement provides insight into her creative process and the many layers of meaning within her technique and images.
This body of work, Síntesis/σύνθεσις, is aptly named synthesis. I was struck by the goals of Antiquity in the Americas and the methods and ideas explored in comparing two different bodies of work on two different continents and a wide array of civilizations. My work began with research; being most familiar with High Classical period Greek sculpture, I wanted to delve into art made in earlier periods such as the Archaic and Geometric period. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to incorporate design motifs and compositions from Aztec Codices and elements of architecture from the empire, but it was through looking at the Archaic period and especially Greek vases that distinct visual similarities began to stand out. In composition, color, form, and pattern there was an overlap that can only be described as human ingenuity.
The method of creating this body of work was different than most other methods I have used in creating other series. With the form of digital art I was limited and unburdened at the same time. Being a printmaker, my work is as much a physical as an artistic process, and in some methods a scientific one. I knew that the work should be reminiscent of both the process of printing and the visual texture of a print. I use halftones throughout the series to achieve that texture and at the same time ground it to a medium that is often used to express ideas and information. The work follows stylistically and compositionally other pieces I have created with that theme. The synthesis of the forms and stories go beyond just the use of these motifs but also incorporate my deep respect for the tradition of printmaking in Mexico. I use the graphic quality of a woodcut to bring a mythical chimera into the world of the alebrije in the piece Chimera - alebrijes being the fantastical and grotesque creatures brought to life by Mexican artist Pedro Linares. The similarities between the mythic beast and Linares’ creatures become all too apparent from experiencing his work. Pulling inspiration from a favorite printer, Leopoldo Mendez, I sought to create something inspiring yet grounded. Promethean Nopal uses the native prickly pear and saguaro cacti to signify that as life itself is borne out of the earth the promethean flame and its knowledge is passed on.
But perhaps the piece that most aptly can visualize this synthesis is Maize/Moly. Taken from the Odyssey, Hermes gifts Odysseus with a flower called moly. The mythic flower had been identified by scientists and was exactly as described by Homer. The piece itself is composed of an ear of corn or maize, one of the staple foods of the region and cultures in and around Mexico. The flower wraps itself around the grain as it turns into snakes, recalling the caduceus, a recognizable symbol of Hermes. The Lotus Eaters also seeks to recall a memorable scene from the Odyssey. The figures were inspired by similar figures within the codices. Pairs of figures face each other on the page as if fighting or worshiping. The figures’ posture is reminiscent of the feeling expressed by the Lotus Eaters met by Odysseus and his crew.
The goal of this body of work is to visually showcase the synthesis and academic comparisons done by Antiquity in the Americas. The work produced attempts to show visually the overlap in composition and form of distinct cultures. I use motifs of the land, body, and experience of said cultures to create a body of work that asks the viewer to investigate their own preconceptions of the didactic visual work produced by visual cultures.
Atlas and the Night Lords