Karen Navarro Puzzles and Stacks Fragmented Portraits Into Explorations of Identity — Colossal

1692119128 Karen Navarro Puzzles and Stacks Fragmented Portraits Into Explorations of | RetinaComics



Art
Photography

#identity
#Karen Navarro
#portraits

August 15, 2023

Kate Mothes

“Fragment” (2019), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 56 x 48 inches. All images © Karen Navarro, shared with permission

Stacked, spinning, and puzzled together, Karen Navarro’s vibrant portraits explore myriad facets of identity. Photography provides the foundation for the Houston-based artist’s practice, which often encompasses sculpture, text, and collage to examine ideas around self-representation, gender, race, and a sense of belonging. In two of her recent series, The Constructed Self and Neither Here Nor There, Navarro slices bold portraits into cubes or strips, then rearranges the pieces into shape-shifting patterns.

Born in Argentina, Navarro later immigrated to the United States, and in 2014, she discovered that she could trace her ancestry to the Mapuche culture. “I have always been interested in identity, but this piece of information shook my past understanding of who I was,” she says. The Constructed Self developed from an interest in the simultaneously personal and universal human experience of building and exuding a persona. She is also interested in how one’s perspective can alter what one sees.

Through fragmenting, layering, and reassembling, Navarro splices images with bright edges that draw attention to negative space, uneven surfaces, and intersections. She captures digital portraits of her sitters in front of solid backgrounds, emphasizing their direct gazes and garments. While she focuses on others, she sees the work as self-reflective and driven by “the need to celebrate diversity to reframe the representation of historically marginalized identities.”

 

A photograph of a Black woman in a bright pink shawl that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Untitled (rearranged)” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 30 x 24 inches

Neither Here Nor There centers on first, second, and third-generation immigrants and reconfigures the images to visualize the endless process of forming one’s identity. “I’m attracted to the contradiction of creating work that is made out of a photograph but ceases to be one when I separate it into pieces and add other materials like wood, paint, and resin,” she says. “It’s no longer a photograph, but it doesn’t become a sculpture either…The hybridity of the final artwork conceptually embodies how I feel, that I don’t belong here or there.”

Navarro recently traveled to Argentina to photograph people reconnecting with their Indigenous heritage, and she plans to return to present an exhibition of the final works. To help fund the project, she will launch a series of prints on Indigenous Peoples Day (October 9). “The work is about reconnecting with my Indigenous identity and celebrating its beauty,” she tells Colossal. “For me, reconnecting with that part of my identity is a profound act of resilience, resistance, and reclamation.”

Find more of Navarro’s work on her website, and follow Instagram for updates about the print release and future projects.

 

A photograph of a white woman with pink hair that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Untitled (perspective)” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 35 x 28 x 3 inches

A photograph of a Native American man in a patterned shirt that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Displaced” (2022), from ‘Neither Here Nor There,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, , and epoxy, 24.75 x 23 inches

A photograph of a Black man in a striped shirt that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Rearranged ll,” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 32 x 30.5 inches

Left: A photograph of a Black man in a hat and button-down shirt that looks like it has been folded, and a hole is obscuring his face. Right: A constructed photograph of a white woman with red hair that hands from a string.

Left: “Fractured” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, epoxy, and vinyl, 50 x 40 inches. Right: “Twisted” (2020), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, epoxy, acrylic paint, and metal rope, 52 x 18 x 18 inches

A photograph of a Black man that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Puzzled” (2020), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 50 x 36 inches

A photograph of a white woman in a patterned shirt that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Untitled (perspective ll)” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 30 x 24 x 3 inches

A photograph of a Black man that has been fragmented and reassembled on a pedestal.

“Twisted variation” (2021), from ‘The Constructed Self,’ archival inkjet print, wood, gesso, metal, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 24 x 24 x 15 inches

A photograph of an Asian woman in a striped shirt that has been fragmented and reassembled.

“Sliced” (2022), from ‘Neither Here Nor There,’ archival inkjet print, wood, acrylic paint, and epoxy, 27 x 27.5 inches

#identity
#Karen Navarro
#portraits

 

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