GABRIELA SALAZAR

GABRIELA SALAZAR

American, b. 1981

Matters in Shelter (and Place, Puerto Rico), 2018

Coffee clay (used coffee grounds, flour, salt), concrete block,
wood, and polypropylene mesh tarp
12 ft. x 16 ft. x 20 ft. (365.8 x 487.7 x 609.6 cm)
Courtesy the artist

Gabriela Salazar created Matters in Shelter (and Place, Puerto Rico) following the widespread devastation of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The blue tarp creates a sanctuary space, and recalls the temporary protective coverings employed during recovery efforts. The floor of the structure is built from blocks made of concrete, a building material increasingly necessary in Puerto Rico for its resiliency against dangerous tropical storms and hurricanes, but is itself one of the leading causes of climate change due to the significant carbon emissions generated in its production. Other blocks are made of an unstable, homemade, coffee-based clay. The artist’s mother grew up on a coffee farm in Puerto Rico, and coffee had been resurgent in Puerto Rican agriculture—gains that were decimated by Hurricane Maria. As the coffee blocks disintegrate, the artist will replenish them. Salazar has said, “The process of making the coffee clay is central to the work: repeating the manual labor in it, and the Sisyphean attempt to make a thing that you know is going to fall apart.”