May 3th, 2024

Apia Ends Her Exhibition Exaggerations of History with a Captivating Artist Talk

By MoCA-Americas Team

The Museum of Contemporary Art of the Americas is working diligently to finalize Converging Plateaus and Exaggerations of History, one of the most captivating exhibitions this year, concluded with an engaging talk by Chilean artist Carolina García (Apia). The discussion was attended by prominent figures from the cultural world, particularly in the visual arts. Apia shared with the attendees the background of this project, which was previously showcased in its full version at the Coral Springs Museum of Art from February to April 2023.

"Exaggerations of History" is a collection of 101 miniature portraits of female artists, spanning from the 12th to the 20th century, each accompanied by an integrated Augmented Reality (AR) experience. Through an AR-enabled journey facilitated by an application, museum visitors gained access to a vivid video narrative that brings to life the biography and creative journey of each artist. On this occasion, due to space constraints, Apia exhibited only 50 of these portraits.

During the research phase years ago, the artist conducted a quick survey among individuals not associated with the art world, and the vast majority could not recall any female artists. Those who did primarily mentioned Frida, which, unfortunately, was not surprising. Her astonishment grew when she conducted the same survey among men familiar with the fine arts: painters, architects, and sculptors. Again, they could only name the renowned Mexican artist. Some added another name, but never the same one. This is why Frida became the sole guest in Exaggerations of History. Apia reflected that she could not exclude her if her aim was to include all those incredible and talented women.

Taking this almost dramatic circumstance into account, the grand objective of this project was to reaffirm the significant role of women in the arts from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century. Almost all of them were overlooked by art history. Apia views this omission in historical records as a profound distortion of history. Furthermore, the selected artists for this compilation were indeed crucial in their time. Upon their deaths, they remained conspicuously absent from academic texts, leaving successive generations without the full historical narrative. This gap has led to the mistaken perception that women's contributions to the arts are a recent phenomenon. García asserts that this misrepresentation stems from our intrinsic human failings, and as a deliberate nod to these deficiencies, she presented tiny paintings that were meticulously created without the aid of magnifying tools.

During the discussion, Apia shared a charming anecdote with us:

I was reviewing the final version of the Exaggerations of History compilation video when I realized that one of the paintings I had used for Giovanna Fratellini did not have the same 'hand' as the others, meaning it looked like it was painted by someone else… and at that moment, I panicked. Perhaps 'panicked' is an exaggeration, but I certainly felt a lot of anxiety. Everything was already done, the miniatures were framed, everything finished. This compilation video was a detail within all the work… and when I saw it, questions started to pop up in my head: Did I make a mistake? Is it not her? Or does the painting not belong there and is by another artist? What is wrong… what needs to be changed? And the biggest question: Do I have to redo the miniature?

The mistake was painting Contessa Faustina Bolognetti based on a portrait made by Giovanna Fratellini instead of painting her. The miniature of Giovanna was harder to paint than the others because, when I did it, I was working on a series of large-format abstract paintings, which made it very complex to return to the discipline of reference analysis needed, a true moment of contemplation. To be able to paint the miniature without using a magnifying glass, it is very important to maintain eye-hand coordination and thus be able to maintain the necessary proportions for a portrait. In this way, it is essential to retain the maximum amount of information from the reference, such as the geometric position of each element, the colors, and the light, so as not to have to look at the reference again until all that information is transferred to the work. Once you look away, the hand-eye coordination is immediately lost, so to restart the process, it is necessary to begin by making strokes on an additional support until regaining the necessary proportions to finish the work.

When it was time to do this miniature, not only had I left the discipline of contemplation for several months, but also, working in large format, the total surface of the miniature seemed even smaller. It was the same, but re-establishing those strokes was undoubtedly difficult. Now, when I look at the miniature portrait I did for her, I can notice these things, although, for the observer, there is no difference compared to the others.

On the left, the portrait of the Countess, painted based on an original by Giovanna Fratellini. On the right, the hastily completed portrait of Fratellini, finished at the last moment.

Apia (Carolina V. García, b. 1977, Chile) is a multidisciplinary artist based in South Florida. Her work stems from her emotional introspection and observing life around her, sharing from within what she calls "Conscious Happiness." Apia grew up in Chile during a military dictatorship and was raised to trust her instincts and take on responsibilities, which allowed her to develop resilience and self-esteem. After a successful career as an engineer, she discovered that she could communicate through drawings and paintings with her autistic son, leading her professional path in a new direction. As an artist, Apia has found a strong foundation in her love for learning and her open mind towards creativity and freedom of expression, while exploring themes such as inclusion, self-discovery, and acceptance. Apia is a two-time recipient of the Broward Cultural Division. She received the Artist Support Grant and the Innovative Artist Grant. She has participated in art fairs and exhibitions in Chile, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

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