Johanna Unzueta (b 1974, Santiago de Chile) lives and works in Brooklyn. Unzueta received her MFA from Universidad Católica de Chile in 1999. Equally fascinated by the hand-made and the industrial, her work in woven and dyed textile, paper and felt, references different forms of labor. Aesthetically-satisfying craftsmanship – largely absorbed from her early exposure to the foundational skills of indigenous makers in southern Chile -- and functionally-driven skilled labor – admired by her in architecture and industry - come together in Unzueta’s wool felt sculptures of commercial pipes and faucets, tools and hardware. Her more recent drawings, pressed between Plexiglas and set into wood bases, are the result of multiple techniques of dying, puncturing, embroidering and constructing the supporting structure. She consistently disrupts the distinctions between art and craft, the contemporary and traditional, and in doing so, questions broader social issues of progress and labor.
Unzueta has shown widely in North and South America and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include 'Tools for Life', Modern Art Oxford (2020), REDCAT, Los Angeles (2019),Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University (2019), A.I.R Gallery’s 13 Biennial Exhibition, New York and Bronx Museum (2019), Tenth Berlin Biennale, Berlin (2018). Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University (2019), Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City (2019), 7W57Arts, New York (2018).
Emily LaBarge, Johanna Unzueta on layering history, labor and self in her art, Artforum, March 11th, 2020. Image: Johanna Unzueta, Related to Myself, 2019–20, felt, thread, recycled wooden spools, burnt wood, dimensions variable. Courtesy the Artist.
Lewis Campbell-Smith, Where Industry meets Humanity: Johanna Unzueta at Modern Art Oxford, Cherwell, June 11th, 2020
Alex White, Johanna Unzueta- Tools fo Life, This is tomorrow, April 1st, 2020. Image: Johanna Unzueta, Tools for Life, Installation view, Modern Art Oxford. Photography: Ben Westoby