Collection 1980s–Present

Guadalupe Maravilla. Disease Thrower #5. 2019 286

Gong, glass, steel, wood, glue mixture, cotton, wood, plastic, loofah, paint, straw, Florida Water, and objects collected from a ritual retracing the artist's original migration route, 91 × 55 × 45" (231.1 × 139.7 × 114.3 cm). Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © Guadalupe Maravilla

Guadalupe Maravilla: My name is Guadalupe Maravilla. I was born in El Salvador. You're in Luz y fuerza, an exhibition that has healing instruments that can be activated doing sound baths. The title translates to hope and strength, and was influenced by my experience with cancer.

Healing for me is a combination of multiple things. When I was overcoming cancer, I used chemotherapy, radiation, two surgeries, but in addition to that, I worked with all types of ancient healing ways. I was wondering what my guardians look like. And I started looking at Mayan mythology, and a lot of their gods were these abstract creatures that were threatening, but they were the protectors. So I realized I needed something really fierce, and that's why I created the Disease Throwers.

With the sculptures, I retrace my migration route. I go back to different towns that I crossed when I was eight years old, when I was escaping the civil war and I was unaccompanied, undocumented, and I go back to these places to collect materials for sculpture, but also to confront these spaces. It's part of the healing process as well.

Disease Thrower #5 is a healing instrument, a shrine, and a sculpture, and also it's a wearable headdress. I've collected, for example, this anatomical plastic model of a breast that has a tumor on it. There's also a glass buoy. The reflection from the sun would guide the ships, but also I see that buoy as a compass for me.

Having audiences come to my sound baths and learning about how sound can be medicine is something that I think is really important. But also, to me, what's really exciting is that some people can walk away without even listening to the work and feel very fulfilled by experiencing the work as sculpture.