Jovencio de la Paz explores how textile processes—such as weaving, dye, and stitchwork—intersect with broader concerns of language, histories of colonization, migrancy, ancient technology and speculative futures. Confronting issues of embodiment and disembodiment, his current work employs Jacquard looms to create textiles that exist between the physicality of cloth and the ephemeral states of digital.
For Secret Tongues at Russo Lee Gallery, de la Paz presents new works that unite two technologies separated by centuries of time, manually programmed punchard Jacquard looms of the 18th century, and TC2 Jacquard technology of the 21st century. Having the rare opportunity to work with turn of the century punchard Jacquard Looms at the Fondazione Arte Seta Lisio in Florence, Italy, de la Paz explores the linkage between language, pattern, code, and binary expressions, considering the loom and the computer as a nexus of transmission of invisible or hidden textual information. In both the loom and the computer, language and code pass through thresholds of translation, becoming data, becoming thread, becoming structure, becoming word, becoming symbol.
De la Paz received an MFA in Fibers from the Cranbrook Academy of Art (2012) and a BFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2008). He has exhibited work in solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, most recently at The Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver, Colorado); Ditch Projects (Springfield); The Art Gym (Marylhurst); ThreeWalls (Chicago); Casey Droege Cultural Productions (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); The Alice (Seattle); Carl & Sloan Contemporary Art (Portland); 4th Ward Projects (Chicago); SPACE Gallery (Portland, Maine); SOIL Gallery (Seattle); and Uri Gallery (Seoul, South Korea). He regularly teaches at schools of art, craft and design throughout the country, including the Ox Bow School of Art (Saugatuck, Michigan), the Haystack Mountain School of Craft (Deer Isle, Minnesota), and the Arrowmont School of Craft (Tennessee). De la Paz is a co-founder of the collaborative group Craft Mystery Cult, established in 2010.
The Office is an exhibition space started in 2017 by Eva Lake, inside the office at Russo Lee Gallery. This program showcasing unrepresented artists is an important moment at one of Portland’s longest running and most respected contemporary art venues, providing increased opportunities to regional artists and more artistic voices for viewers. Blake Shell, Executive Director of Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, has been asked to curate The Office for the 2018-19 season.
Focusing on presenting work by people of color and women, this season of The Office continues the work of increasing equity and inclusion that has begun at Russo Lee Gallery, lead by owner Martha Lee, as well as at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center under Shell’s direction. Shell has selected a group of artists who are unrepresented by larger commercial galleries, some who are well known regionally and some who are new to exhibiting in Portland. Artists have been selected for the high quality of their work that relates to themes of artmaking in the Pacific Northwest found at Russo Lee Gallery, such as materiality, patterned abstraction, relationships to the environment, and personal/social identities.