Rugs have adorned the floors of many homes for millennia. (Did you know that the oldest surviving rug, the Pazyryk Rug, dates all the way back to 500B.C.?) And it remains to be one of the most common decorative pieces that we have in our homes today. Rugs come in different designs and sizes these days. A rug can easily make or break the look of any room. You can simply put it on the floor, then when you don’t feel like using it anymore, you can just roll it up and put it in storage. But Spanish artist Selva Aparicio’s rug carving entitled Childhood Memories isn’t something you can so easily hide away in the attic or basement, or even want to step on… ever.
Aparicio is an interdisciplinary artist, as she extends her creative energy in various artistic genres, like installation art, sculpture and performance art. But instead of tackling whimsical themes, Aparicio works towards achieving something else. Her creations aim to “dig deeper into ideas of memory, death, intimacy, and mourning”. These topics are neither light nor easy to discuss. But Aparicio’s profound creations, like her rug, will definitely have you musing about life and its intricacies.
Selva Aparicio’s rug carving resembles a Persian rug
Aparicio’s carving measures a staggering 3m x 4.6m or 657 square feet. It is styled just like a traditional Persian rug. In fact, it’s so beautifully and intricately done that you’d think you really were seeing a rug strewn across the floor from afar. Then, once you’re standing over it, you’ll be stunned at just how many details Aparicio has so patiently included in the piece. The edges of the rug are adorned with tassels as if they could be moved and one corner is even flipped over. Every carefully carved detail will blow your mind but the inspiration for the piece isn’t very pretty. In a statement, Aparicio explained:
“I presented this installation as my thesis during my MFA at Yale University. Rugs are typically adorned with sacred gardens and oases, and can be moved around the home. The rug stayed put, quietly participating in years of familial abuse. This installation is about covering and exposing, trauma, and bearing witness.”
The installation piece combines personal memory and a domestic object
With this explanation we can surmise that Aparcio’s rug carving, Childhood Memories, represents a spectator or witness to a family’s tumultuous history. She likened the engraved details to the mental scars she got from the experience. The implication of her MFA installation is definitely something that many can resonate with. Traumatic experiences, no matter how far in the past it occurred, will never really go away even if we try our best to hide its effects. It becomes something we must learn to live with. She further elaborated by adding:
“My memories are permanently etched, so the soft fabric is represented in hand-carved scars on discarded wood flooring. I strive to find beauty in the peril and bear witness to the progression of ephemerality-permanence-loss.”
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Her carving may not be on display now, but you can view Aparicio’s other installations at the International Museum of Surgical Science until January 17th, 2021. In addition to that, Aparicio also has an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago until May 2nd, 2021. So if you live near these venues, make plans!