THE MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS HOUSTON COMMISSIONS ONE OF ERNESTO NETO’S LARGEST CROCHET WORKS TO DATE
The Museum commissions site-specific, immersive installation by the Brazilian artist that will transform the Museum’sCullinan Hall into a suspended walkway. Ernesto Neto: SunForceOceanLife, the seventh installment of the Museum’s summer immersive art series, will be on view from May 30 through September 26, 2021.
SunForceOceanLife is a spiraling, structural marvel that highlights the cyclical relationship between the sun and the sea to produce life on earth. This massive installation will fill Cullinan Hall with yellow, orange, and green materials that are hand-woven into a myriad of patterns and sewn together in a spiral formation. As visitors enter, they will follow a path through the interior passages to its center. Each crocheted section will be filled with soft, plastic balls underfoot that move with each step, forcing visitors to focus on their inner balance and the stability of their own bodies.
“A structural feat, this piece takes inspiration from the artist’s long-term study of and commitment to the art, culture, and traditions of various cultures that form Brazil,” said Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Founding Director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH. “Neto transforms crochet, a popular Brazilian craft, taught to him by his grandmother and typically executed by women on a small, delicate scale, into massive structures that float several feet above the ground.”
“SunForceOceanLife is about fire, the vital energy that enables life on this planet,” said artist Ernesto Neto. “Every time we complete one crocheted spiral with the polymer string used in this work, we burn both ends with fire in a gesture that evokes meditation, prayer, and other sacred rituals. I hope that the experience of this work will feel like a chant made in gratitude to the gigantic ball of fire we call the sun, a gesture of thanks for the energy, truth, and power that it shares with us as it touches our land, our oceans, and our life. SunForceOceanLife also unites the disciplines of art and culture with biology and cosmology; it directly engages the body as does a joyful dance or meditation, inviting us to relax, breathe, and uncouple our body from our conscious mind. The sensation of floating, the body cradled by the crocheted fruits of our labor, brings to mind a hammock: the quintessential indigenous invention that uplifts us and connects us to the wisdom and traditions of our ancestors.”
Ernesto Neto (b. 1964)has produced an influential body of work that explores constructions of social space and the natural world by inviting physical interaction and sensory experience since the mid-1990s. Drawing from Biomorphism, Arte Povera, and minimalist sculpture, along with Neo-concretism and other Brazilian vanguard movements of the 1960s & 70s, the artist both references and incorporates organic shapes and materials —spices, sand and shells among them—that engage all five senses, producing a new type of sensory perception that renegotiates boundaries between artwork and viewer, the organic and manmade, the natural, spiritual and social worlds. Born in Rio de Janeiro, the artist continues to live and work in Brazil.