Mariposa Relámpago opened in Ballroom Marfa’s courtyard on Saturday, November 4, 2023 with a sound ceremony led by the artist Guadalupe Maravilla.
Maravilla (b. 1976 in San Salvador, El Salvador) grounds his sculpture, painting, performance, and large-scale installation in activism and healing, informed by his personal story of migration, illness, and recovery. At the age of eight, Maravilla fled El Salvador’s civil war as an unaccompanied minor and made a perilous journey through Central America to reunite with family in the United States. In the 2010s, Maravilla was diagnosed with colon cancer—an illness he links to generational trauma and the stresses of being undocumented—and during the recovery process, he was introduced to ancient methods of healing, including the use of sound. This life event shifted Maravilla’s practices, and he has since worked tirelessly to raise awareness of trauma and expand access to healing, nurturing collective narratives with a sense of perseverance and humanity.
Mariposa Relámpago, which translates to Lightning Butterfly, is the artist’s largest sculpture to date. Maravilla’s sculptures known as Disease Throwers, incorporate natural materials, handmade objects, and items collected while retracing his migratory route. Every sculpture includes metal gongs that are activated by the artist during public sound baths to deploy the powers of vibrational sound as a form of healing. Maravilla’s artworks also contain a cosmology of potent symbols and objects that connect the artist’s personal journey with ancient practices of the Indigenous Mayan peoples; diverse spiritual and folk beliefs; and contemporary crises of disease, ecology, and war. Mariposa Relámpago functions as a sculpture, shrine and healing instrument.
Also on view is a mural inspired by a Salvadoran children’s game where two players draw lines between numbers, ultimately forming an abstract pattern or map. At Ballroom, the artist and a collaborator, who share similar experiences of migration, will create Tripa Chuca together on Ballroom’s courtyard walls.
Maravilla was a Ballroom Sessions—The Farther Place artist-in-residence in 2021 and 2022.
Originally commissioned by ICA Boston in May 2023, Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago opened at Ballroom Marfa on November 4, 2023. The installation will be presented at The Contemporary Austin’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria in April 2024 and will commence at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston in November 2024.
Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976 in San Salvador, El Salvador) is a transdisciplinary visual artist, choreographer, and healer. At the age of eight, Maravilla was part of the first wave of unaccompanied, undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War. In 2006, Maravilla became a U.S. citizen. In 2016, he adopted the name Guadalupe Maravilla in solidarity with his undocumented father, who uses Maravilla as his last name. As an acknowledgment to his past, Maravilla grounds his practice in the historical and contemporary contexts belonging to the undocumented and cancer communities.
Combining pre-colonial Central American ancestry, personal mythology, and collaborative performative acts, Maravilla’s performances, objects, and drawings trace the history of his own displacement and that of others. Culling the entangled fictional and autobiographical genealogies of border crossing accounts, Maravilla nurtures collective narratives of trauma into celebrations of perseverance and humanity. Across all media, Maravilla explores how the systemic abuse of immigrants physically manifests in the body, reflecting on his own battle with cancer, which began in his gut. Maravilla’s large-scale sculptures, titled Disease Throwers, function as headdresses, instruments, and shrines through the incorporation of materials collected from sites across Central America, anatomical models, and sonic instruments such as conch shells and gongs. These Disease Throwers ultimately serve as symbols of renewal, generating therapeutic, vibrational sound.
Maravilla currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. Additionally, he has performed and presented his work at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Queens Museum, New York; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Museum of Art of El Salvador, San Salvador; X Central American Biennial, Costa Rica; New York; Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, New York; and the Drawing Center, New York, among others.
Awards and fellowships include; The 2021 Joan Mitchell Fellowship, LatinX Fellowship 2021, Lise Wilhelmsen Art award 2021, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship 2019, Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space 2019, Map fund 2019, Creative Capital Grant 2016, Franklin Furnace 2018, Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant 2016, Art Matters Grant 2013, Art Matters Fellowship 2017, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship 2018, Dedalus Foundation Grant 2013 and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award 2003. Residencies include; LMCC Workspace, SOMA, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Drawing Center Open Sessions. Maravilla has been featured in the NY Times, Hyperallergic, Brooklyn Rail, the Guardian, Art Forum and many other publications.
Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago is commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and organized by Ruth Erickson, Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.
Mariposa Relámpago will travel to venues across Texas through a partnership between organizations including Ballroom Marfa and The Contemporary Austin. Ballroom Marfa’s presentation is organized by Daisy Nam, Alexann Susholtz, Sarah Melendez. The Contemporary Austin presentation is organized by Alex Klein, Head Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs.
Generous support from Ruth Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts; City of Marfa, Suzanne Deal Booth, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Lebermann Foundation; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; and International Surf Club Founding Members.
Special thanks to Mariana Parisca; Ruth Erickson, Garrett Gould; sharon maidenberg, Alex Klein; Ella Blanchon, Corey Durbin, P.P.O.W Gallery.