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Carmen Argote’s Me At Market A close looking exercise

During her Austin residency in Spring 2020, Carmen Argote created a site-specific installation referencing the VAC’s unique architectural features and disrupting the division between inside and outside.

Argote’s multidisciplinary practice draws upon the specific spaces she inhabits.

For her VAC exhibition, Me At Market, Argote created a large-scale textile piece from untreated linen. The pattern mimics that of the concrete pavers in the gallery’s courtyard and continues onto the floor below.

Where is your eye drawn? Focus on that area. Try to pinpoint what intrigues you about it.
What do you notice about the materials used?
A mixture of cochineal dye and lemon juice creates reddish stripes that streak down the front of the textile, accentuating the gridded pattern make by a series of pockets sewn onto its surface.
These liquid pours transform the textile into an abstract painting that extends onto the gallery floor.
The pattern made by the residual dye represents Argote’s process-based painting approach, which combines both advance planning and an element of chance. Here, the artist activated the cochineal dye with lemon juice to create this brightly colored result.

Take a moment to close your eyes and uses your senses to place yourself in the space with this piece.

What would these pools feel like, if you could touch them? What would the orange parts taste like? What sounds would hear in the environment of the work?
Even though these pools of color look wet, they are completely dry. The way the sugars in the lemon juice reacted to the cochineal dye resulted in this liquid sheen.

Now that you’ve spent time with Me At Market, try your hand at creating your own piece of artwork inspired by Carmen Argote. Start with a piece of paper, cardboard, or fabric, and get creative with the materials you choose. You can use traditional media like watercolors, or try incorporating natural materials in your kitchen such as lemon juice or coffee!

Play with how different materials fall onto the surface or mix together in a spontaneous way. Like Argote, let the process of making draw inspiration from the inside and outside spaces around you. Take a moment to look around and take in your surroundings.

Because of the large scale of Argote’s work in Me At Market, the piece was unable to be removed from the gallery without some modifications. Argote decided to break her work into smaller parts to share with other people.

You can create your own postcards from your art! Once you finish your art piece, try cutting it into different parts. Send the smaller pieces to friends and family you haven’t seen in a while to show them you care.

Repeat the process and play around with new materials until you have enough to send to all your loved ones. You just might inspire them to create their own works of art!