19 / 26

Alfonso Ossorio. Empty Chair or The Last Colonial. 1969 49

Glass and plastic marbles, West African wood figures, tree fragments, pebbles, geode, iron nails, coral, seashells, wood shoe trees, lobster claws, sword, painted human foot bones and vertebra, faux pearls, plastic and wooden letters, plastic sheets and scraps, wood scraps, painted wood, animal claws and bones, domino, glass eyes, bell, and other materials on plastic sheets mounted on wood, 46 3/8 x 39 1/4 x 15 7/8" (117.7 x 99.7 x 40.3 cm). Gift of the artist

Educator, Francis Estrada: My name is Francis Estrada. I’m a visual artist and I'm an educator at MoMA. We are looking at an artwork by Alfonso Ossorio called Empty Chair or The Last Colonial.

There’s a large circular piece in the middle and it’s bright red. And inside it looks like there’s a shell or a mushroom, there’s also beads that are embedded and some nails. And as you move out from that red circle, there’s some bones, a wooden attachment that goes inside a shoe. On the upper right-hand corner, there’s a three leaf clover. On the bottom left-hand corner, it looks like a farming tool, something that you use for cutting wheat. I’m drawn to different things every time I look at it. Today I’m drawn to the lower right-hand corner. The pose of the wooden figure. It feels like it’s encouraging.

Ossorio was a Philippine-born artist. I had moved from the Philippines to the US when I was 13. And there’s something about this that just reminds me of things that I had seen growing up and things that I sometimes long for anytime I go back home.

There’s so much to look at. Ossorio would never give you the full story. He would give you parts to make you think and to make you try to understand and make meaning for yourself. So it’s almost like a mystery box to me.

There’s no right or wrong way to see it. It’s a chance for you to try to see what parts connect to you and what parts speak to you?