by Vincent Harris for the Charleston City Paper
In Care Work, a new solo show at Redux Contemporary Art Center, artist Camela Guevara takes everyday household items — bits of thread, elastic bands, fabrics, sparkling pieces of scrubbing sponges — and creates spiraling, colorful patterns across her canvases. She imbues the things we see every day with a new artistic identity, at least partially to make the viewer see them, and the people who use them, in a different way.
Using the premise of sewing as both a literal and metaphorical foundation, Guevara chose the name Care Work very deliberately to bring attention to those who tend to us and our loved ones every day.
“I was thinking about sewing in a way that relates to the home or a caregiver,” she says. “Like a grandma or a mom. But I guess it also relates to how we value clothing. It’s really easy to buy an inexpensive shirt and just throw it away because we don’t really think about the kind of work that went into it. At other people’s expense, we are able to buy really inexpensive clothing. So I compared sewing in the home, like your mom hemming your pants or making a Halloween costume, with that offshore creation of a fashion garment. Either way, that work is undervalued.”
The idea that Guevara means to embed in the array of colorful fabrics and other simple, inexpensive items is that we should be a little more aware of the labor that they’re often used for, and of the people who do that labor.
“‘Care Work’ is a term that refers to taking care of family members or friends who can’t take care of themselves,” she says, “and a lot of times, that work falls on women. And that’s very taxing. A lot of times when you don’t have as much of a societal safety net, there aren’t any other options.”
Guevara’s creations as a fabric artist take a subtle, but insightful approach, never over-cluttering the canvas with too much color or too many pieces. It’s an intuitive approach crafted by a person who’s taken refuge in art all of her life.