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Ato Ribeiro
Anastasia Tinari Projects, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen


Ato Ribeiro, "Home Away from Home #3," 2017, reporposed wood, wood glue, 96 x 72 x 1 1/4"

Continuing through December 10, 2017

Ato Ribeiro makes quilts, but not with patches of cloth or stitches of thread. The Philadelphia-born artist makes quilts with discarded wood — a material, he explains, that conceptually parallels the way individuals of African heritage have been treated throughout history. In “Home Coming,” a series of hand-cut wood assemblages reference Black quilting traditions of the American South, as well as Ghanaian kente cloth. Like these textiles, Ribeiro’s works feature geometric patterns that signify narratives or messages, cultural and personal. Those specific formal codes may elude most viewers, though there are layers upon layers of other contents to be deciphered.

A number of works in Ribeiro’s untitled “Wooden Kente Quilt” series have pieces missing from their meticulous, symmetrical patterned blocks. The artist likens these interruptions to the way in which quilters leave visible stitching to emphasize “humanity’s imperfections.” In one such assemblage, a square has been omitted from an edge, exposing the wall through a gap, like a missing tooth. In another, the rows of blocks peter out towards the end, as if halted mid-process. In yet another, vacant sections are filled with a composite of glue and detritus. Most poignant though, are the pieces in which bits of jagged, torn up surfaces suggest that a chunk of wood was glued in place and then pried out — a resonate, yet wide-open metaphor of loss and trauma.


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