By Don Krim
Acclaimed local artist Alberto Lenz has been donating 50 percent of sales of recent works to Jóvenes Adelante students suffering financially from the COVID-19 contingency.
Don: Tell me about these new, highly evocative works.
Alberto: The works are colored ink on paper, and I call the series “Xido San Miguel.” Xido, the Otomi word for white clay tepatate (limestone), is an infertile local soil useless for agriculture, intensively used in traditional construction as it dries to a rock hardness, and the locale of my studio. Beautiful cacti and mesquite survive and even thrive in Xido, where I work. Over time they enrich the land and make life possible for less hardy plants.
Don: Then Xido is a great metaphor for Jóvenes Adelante! JA provides students an extra boost to grow in the otherwise tough native environment of infertile tough Xido, and our students grow deep roots and strong trunks and gorgeous flowers.
The first series you brought to JA was entitled “Connections”—a direct response to social isolation from the COVID-19 quarantine. Can you describe this in more detail?
Alberto: A real consequence of the most useful measures in fighting the pandemic—separation of our bodies and the air we breathe—is a social isolation that can be hurtful. Enriching and visualizing our non-physical connection is a balm to these social “injuries.” “Connections” was my exploration of this theme. As an artist, I was interested in contributing something to face the serious economic situation that many families in our community are facing. It pained me to think that families and students might come under enough personal or financial strain that it would cause them to abandon studying.
Don: How would you describe your work?
Alberto: My work explores the use of logic-based systems in the process of design and creation. These systems may be derived from mathematics, geometry, or game theory. In recent years, I have also been very engaged in exploring the impact of information systems in contemporary art. The “Connections” series is a good recent example of this artistic quest. But in recent years I have also started to use the Mindfulness Drawing technique, which allows me to create an extremely free and spontaneous proposal. This series of Xido San Miguel responds to this second line of work.
Don: Most artists have a visual language. How would you describe yours?
Alberto: In terms of form and artistic language, I have two main sources of inspiration: pre- Columbian art—mainly Mayan architecture and sculpture—and Western constructivist and reductive art. Thus, my work is a blending of antiquity and modernity. My work includes sculpture, painting, and jewelry design, all linked with geometric art and constructivism.
Don: From your experience, what message would you most wish to impart to students facing the current crisis?
Alberto: Grow like cacti, drawing nourishment and strength from even the poorest of soils. Let your inner strength transform your environment as you unfold yourself.
To view Xido and to find out more, visit the website jovenesadelante.org.