In “Marginal Costs,” Artist Lucia Hierro Mines the Space Between Objects and Personal Histories

In “Marginal Costs,” Artist Lucia Hierro Mines the Space Between Objects and Personal Histories

On a recent Friday morning, the artist Lucia Hierro was delayed joining our Zoom call. “Just dealing with a quick issue with install at the museum,” she explained over email. Not long after, she showed me what she meant: A work in “Marginal Costs”—her new exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut—had, apparently overnight, slipped from the wall and onto the floor. “I’m glad that it was up yesterday while we gave a tour to the board members,” she said. “Today, we walked in and we were like, ‘Oh, okay. Yeah. We celebrated too soon.’”

Its logistical complications notwithstanding—ultimately, Hierro had to extricate herself from the hanging mishap, joking, “They don’t pay me for that”— “Marginal Costs” marks her first solo museum show, and perhaps the most considered and comprehensive expression of her creative vision to date. (An accompanying publication will arrive from the museum this fall.) Staked on shapes and iconographies borrowed from Pop Art, minimalism, and the Dutch still-life tradition, “Marginal Costs” encompasses recent and new sculptures from Hierro’s Mercado series; the debut of the Gates, a commission from the Aldrich; and several sprawling wall murals. Taken together, her graphic, oversized pieces mine the boundary between objects and personal histories, economies and identities—especially as they pertain to marginalized communities caught in the crosshairs of gentrification.

Hierro was born in New York to Dominican parents, spending her youth in the Washington Heights/Inwood area of Upper Manhattan. Hers was a musical household—her father kept a recording studio next to their apartment—but she began drawing, she thinks, because of her brother, who attended LaGuardia High School. Even then, Hierro’s art-making functioned as a way to connect; a means of making herself understood. While, at home, her mother would ask what she wanted to wear and sew whatever Hierro sketched, at school, her creativity helped to mitigate a stressful language barrier. “I was in ESL as a kid, and my experience there was really negative. I was so scared all the time; I felt like I was doing something wrong, not speaking English,” she says. “But we would get re-integrated into the classroom for art classes, and I always really loved that because it was a time for me to also kind of flex that I really was good at this.”

Hierro decided as a senior in high school to pursue art formally, her confidence and know-how buttressed by free, weekend art classes at the Cooper Union. “It’s kind of incredible, if you look at the history of art, how many young people—usually from low-income households and with very few art programs in their high schools—ended up [there],” she says. “The Saturday Program really does develop an amazing thing in introducing you to the rest of the Cooper Union college and going, This is a possibility, and this is where you could be.”

Published at Thu, 03 Jun 2021 16:06:40 +0000