Allison Maria Rodriguez’s work arises out of an intertwined state of grief and wonder.
Her immersive, multi-modal installations are an instinctive response to the kinds of losses occurring in what we perceive as the background of our lives every day. Weaving a rich tapestry of Magical Realism, technology and emotion, Rodriguez moves the background into the foreground, enmeshing us simultaneously in its magic and the horror of the vacuum that threatens to expand as thread after thread of our context disconnects from us and dissolves.
The Strength of Very Small Things, commissioned as a 2020 Hanukkah gift to the public by the Jewish Arts Collaborative, is forged from material gathered in 2018, while Rodriguez was an artist-in-residence at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Manitoba Canada.
Through the glass storefront of Boston Cyberarts Gallery, Rodriguez has given us access to one of the remotest places on earth.
There, Northern Lights play over natural landscapes and human debris with equal tenderness, while scientists brave the rugged elements to gather water fleas (daphnia), microscopic organisms whose condition serves as an indicator of the state of our planet’s rapidly changing climate.
Round, projection-mapped footage of the swimming daphnia scales them up to our size, offering a sense of fellowship that’s more difficult to sense when we abide in our usual relationship.
Prismatic beams of light glint at us from their fluttering shapes and the multichannel installation feels like a celebration of these tiny creatures, and of the knowledge they contain: the light their movement sheds on our own vulnerable state in a shared planetary ecosystem.
But also, the quiet glow and flickering of The Strength of Very Small Things feels a bit out of time and space altogether—allowing at least a temporary experience of pause.
All of the scales of the problem get suspended in momentary equilibrium, reminding us of the potency of quiet, humble, persistent, presence.
Here, as the greens and blues and purples slide across the surface of the glass, sometimes reflecting on wet pavement outside as well, a glimmer of hope becomes available that transcends even the scientific.
— Heather Kapplow
Allison Maria Rodriguez is a first-generation Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist working predominantly in video installation. Her work focuses extensively on climate change, species extinction and the interconnectivity of existence. Through video, performance, digital animation, photography, drawing, collage and installation, Rodriguez creates immersive experiential spaces that challenge conventional ways of knowing and understanding the world. In addition to her art practice, she is a curator, educator and arts organizer. Rodriguez is a grand prize winner of the Creative Climate Awards sponsored by The Human Impacts Institute and she was also recently awarded an Earthwatch Communications Fellowship for a residency at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre to work on their “Climate Change at the Arctic’s Edge” project. In 2019, she was honored by WBUR’s The ARTery as one of “The ARTery 25”, a celebration of 25 millennials of color impacting Boston’s arts and culture scene.
The Strength of Very Small Things was a part of "Brighter Connected", a project commissioned by the Jewish Arts Collaborative and on display at Boston Cyberarts Gallery Dec 9, 2020 - Jan 2, 2021