Amara Adbal Figueroa

2022

Artist2Artist Fellowship

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b. 1990 Ponce, Puerto Rico. Agroceramist, artist and environmental advocate. now I focus on things so small I cannot see them • studying clay on the island to filter water • the past to understand our present • creating ceramic works that are immediately fragments • productive failures • an archeology by the living for the living • tools for the study of a longer lasting ceramic object • the beginnings of locally producing a water filter • in wake of the accelerated landgrab • with clay from under our feet • in different scales • from politics of isolation • articulating exchanges across the archipielago • production between islands • a space that we generate • infrastructure that we create • a network of kilns • a vessel that holds what we ingest • separating pathogens from water • vacuums that trap bacterias and viruses • in the meandering paths of a porous filter • tortuosity • like a winding river • sawdust burns out of clay • leaving small cavities • this is now potable.

Tierrafiltra honors the relationship between craft and the ecosystem by catapulting a technical discourse that studies local clay bodies through the production of a ceramic water filter: a possible solution for a problem that affects the archipelago of Borikén (Puerto Rico) both in catastrophic moments and in our everyday. This rigorous study and collaboration with the land stems from vulnerability and intuition. Microscopic mineral composition and water quality inquiry open the door to macro
and socio-political questions about land and water tenure in a context of accelerated privatization of the archipelagos natural resources. Tierrafiltra is a project of digestive-meets-river-health; Tierrafiltra reminds us how this membrane filter does not differ from our landscape’s technology. Tierrafiltra is one of many simultaneous and interconnected efforts that explicitly express the need for conscious and regenerative practices in life and in art.

n. 1990 Borikén (Puerto Rico). Agroalfarera, artista y colaboradora con la naturaleza que somos • a veces me enfoco en cosas tan pequeñas que ni las veo • estudiando la arcilla de Borikén para limpiar el agua • me interesa el pasado para entender el presente • Jácana, ¿dónde estás? • creando obras en cerámica que pueden terminar en fragmentos • fracasos productivos • la arqueología de lxs vivxs para lxs vivxs • realmente son herramientas para el estudio de un objeto cerámico con más larga duración • estamos en los principios de realizar un filtro de barro • en contra del robo de nuestras tierras • y para la salud de nuestras aguas • con la arcilla bajo nuestros pies • son muchas las escalas • desde políticas que nos aíslan • articulando intercambios entre antillanos • entre islas • un espacio que generamos • entre especies • una red de hornos para la cerámica • a un recipiente que aguante algo que ingerimos • líquido primero pasando por un contenedor poroso • se quema lo orgánico del mineral inorgánico • el aserrín se desvanece del barro • los vacíos atrapan las bacterias y los virus • los caminos meandros • separando los patógenos del agua • como un río sinuoso • asíeslat o r t u os i d a d •latierrafiltra•ahoraelaguaespotable•yestálloviendomucho•

Tierrafiltra honra la relación entre el ecosistema y el oficio al catapultar un discurso técnico que estudia los cuerpos de arcillas locales a través de la elaboración de un filtro cerámico de agua: una posible solución a un problema que afecta al archipiélago de Borikén (Puerto Rico) tanto en momentos catastróficos como en la cotidianidad. Esta indagación desde la composición elemental de los minerales y la calidad del agua abre la puerta a cuestiones macro y sociopolíticas sobre la tenencia de la tierra y el agua en un contexto de privatización acelerada de los recursos naturales del archipiélago. Tierrafiltra se encuentra entre la salud digestiva y la salud de la cuenca hidrográfica; Tierrafiltra pretende recordarnos y enseñarnos cómo este filtro de membrana de tecnología de libre acceso no difiere de la tecnología de nuestre paisaje. Tierrafiltra es uno de muchos esfuerzos simultáneos e interconectados que expresan explícitamente la necesidad de prácticas conscientes y regenerativas en la vida y en el arte.

Figueroa is also a 2022 Betty Parsons Fellow.

Featured Image: Amara Abdal Figueroa, Merari mezclando arcilla y asserrín / Merari gently mixing clay and sawdust, 2021. 35 mm photography of ceramic filter material research with Merari Torres Amaro. Courtesy of the artist.

Image Alt-Text: Merari Torres Amaro, soil scientist and collaborator (hand model), is dry mixing the two main ingredients for filter making: clay and sawdust. The photo is a close up of her hands, one on the edge of the large mixing pot and the other in the center just as her fingers are disappearing into the finely sifted raw materials. Upon closely looking at the contents, one can distinguish between the reddish mahogany sawdust and a brown clay powder. For filter making, the goal is to thoroughly mix these materials before adding water.

Projects
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Central in a large rice cooking pot is a large ball of clay for filter-pressing. Hands are firmly holding the pot forward to show how the once-dry materials are now holding each other: not too dry or too wet.
Amara Abdal Figueroa, la masa antes de prensar / the ball of clay before pressing, 2022. 35 mm studio process photo by Pablo Varona Borges. Courtesy of Tierrafiltra.

In the center of the image is a mass of clay over a plaster bat in my garden; the photo captures an ephemeral face sculpted by the repetitive motions of aligning clay particles by hand.
Amara Abdal Figueroa, yo no sé si tú, pero yo veo muchas caras bellas en la tierra / I don't know about you, but I see a lot of beautiful faces in the earth, 2021. Studio documentation of clay from the Cerro Mariquita soil series, a clay sample from a field workshop called "Intuiciencia," a Spanish compound word of Intuition+Science, in which we studied the intuitions of our soil sciences co-facilitated by Zoelie Rivera Ocasio, Merari Torres Amaro, Pablo Varona Borges and Amara Abdal Figueroa in collaboration with the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico (MAC. 35 mm photo. Courtesy of Tierrafiltra.

Over a canvas-covered table there is a ceramic water filter prototype (Morado soil series) and test bars aligned in relationship to where they originate geographically. Surrounding these are small forms such as rounded shallow discs, a cone representing a mountain in Jayuya, pinched bowls and three cone packs used to measure temperature and time in the kiln. The filter prototype has some notes inscribed; the most visible is 'SOMOS TIERRA,' or 'WE ARE OUR EARTH.' This studio still documents the variety of raw clay bodies before going into the kiln.
Amara Abdal Figueroa, somos (nuestra) tierra y ésta es diversa / we are (our) earth and it is diverse, 2021. 35 mm photography of ceramic filter research. Courtesy of Tierrafiltra.
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