Lehman College Art Gallery



Raquel big

River Library Scrolls. 2011. Orinoco. Imjim, Mississippi, Urubamba and Mekong rivers mud and glue on Essindia paper (each individual piece is made with mud from one river). 19 pieces (scrolls). Dimensions Variable.

For a very long time I have been fascinated by the dark, that which is concealed beneath the surface of objects, words, thoughts, and the world. I am interested in what we don’t see, or that which seems to be invisible. Equally, I am compelled by the process of how something emerges into view from concealment. Working across mediums, this has been the essence of my artwork for the last 50 years.
This fascination is reflected in my current work “River Library”. This is a series of drawings on handmade paper in which I use mud from rivers around the world as my medium. The layering of paper and mud onto pages parallels the formation of sediments in the depth of the rivers. This mud embodies the history of the earth and humankind –it contains life, death, and layers of accumulation. It encompasses a yet unwritten history of nature and culture, and functions like a text, providing a trace or memory of our existence.
All of the works in this series, have their source in chaos and the unformed darkness of mud, but unfold into order and form. Ancient civilizations in the Mesopotamia region created the first libraries in the 4th millenium BC. They inscribed their histories imprinting cuneiform characters on tablets that they made with mud (clay) from the rivers along which they settled. While clay was their ‘paper’, clay is for me the actual text. River library, as both a metaphor of, and a witness to our history, echoes those first libraries.
These drawings are like pages of books from an infinite library.


Raquel sma1                  raquel sma2


River Library 349. 2010. Orinoco River mud and glue on Essindia paper. 16 x 23 in
River Library 348. 2010. Orinoco River mud on Essindia paper, 12 x 18 in