This Sculptor’s Pop Art-Inspired Creations Breathe New Life Into Waste
Artist Liliana Marquez turns leftover architecture samples into geometric works of art.
Marquez’s ‘Re-Pop’ shows reclaimed America in art made out of the remains of mass culture
Liliana Marquez’s Stoughton studio overflows with architecture samples, including stacks of wood and strips of rubber flooring littering the table. Rather than head for the landfill, these surplus materials—which Marquez reclaims from local architects and interior designers—compose her abstract, 3-D works of art. “I’d need to have another life to be able to use everything I have in my studio,” she says with a laugh.
Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, Marquez studied art and design at the Caracas Institute of Design and found inspiration in the likes of Alejandro Otero, Mercedes Pardo, and Carlos Cruz-Diez—abstract artists whose geometric influences are evident in Marquez’s work. In 2009, after moving to the United States, a visit to a reclaim shop in Lynn ignited her passion for repurposing the leftover fragments. “It opened my eyes about architecture samples,” she says. “Each one [is] a little piece of art.”
What followed was the inception of Marquez’s signature style: pop art–inspired sculptures that breathe new life into what was once waste. Take her piece Thanks Colors, for example. Mixed strips of colorful rubber flooring sit evenly spaced atop seven pieces of wood in various finishes, creating an optical-illusion-esque composition. “The materials are out there,” she says of the plentiful samples, which abound from an era of mass production and Boston’s building boom. All they require is some creativity. “They have color, texture, everything,” she notes. “They feel alive.”
Artist Liliana Marquez shows off a work from her “Re-Pop” exhibition coming this week to Gallery 263 in Cambridgeport.
The pop art of the 1950s captured a time of mass consumption, advertising and Elvis, producing garish pop culture full of melodrama, violence and primary colors; artist Liliana Marquez offers “re pop art” made from the remains of that mass consumption, where colors are muted but the message is optimistic.
In the “Re-Pop” exhibition on display Wednesday through June 25 at Gallery 263 – with an opening reception with Marquez from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday – a triptych proclaims a bold “Attitude” and a perfect square says things are “Wonderful,” messages that hit the same vibe whether made out of wood panel and reclaimed game pieces or textiles and vinyl. And she has a mildly mind-bending accompanying piece that makes a simultaneous suggestion and challenge to the viewer: “I am what I see / See what I am.”
That is: Marquez is optimistically recycling the world; someone who sees that might also become what they see, and obliged to take up the mission.
“We live in an era of mass production and new construction where we have a wonderful world full of extra sample materials. I decided to incorporate as much reclaimed and surplus material as possible in all of my designs,” Marquez says. “I believe that my mission as an eco artist to this planet is to create a movement where we can use all these amazing sample materials all around the world and really minimize the waste.”
Marquez says being born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, “a country where reclamation is necessary,” gave her the background that inspired her to make art with a message “about the transformational bright side of everything.” At her at Lilimarq Art & Design studio in Boston, she’s used almost exclusively recycled, repurposed and reclaimed materials from commerce and industry since 2009.
“I achieve great satisfaction in knowing that I am able to transform this trash into treasure,” she says.
Liliana Marquez’s “Re-Pop” solo exhibition is up Wednesday through June 25 at Gallery 263, 263 Pearl St., Cambridgeport. Gallery hours are noon to 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays. 12 Information is at gallery263.com/re-pop/.