Wadsworth Atheneum opens first U.S. exhibition by artist Dulce Chacón

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Wadsworth Atheneum opens first U.S. exhibition by artist Dulce Chacón
Dulce Chacón, Untitled from the series “Sound Locators,” 2015, Ink on paper, Courtesy the artist.

HARTFORD, CONN.- The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art features Mexico City artist Dulce Chacón in her debut exhibition in the United States, and her first solo endeavor outside of Mexico. "Fallen Angels," featuring 70 of the artist's skillfully rendered drawings, is the 175th installation of the museum's groundbreaking MATRIX contemporary art program. The exhibition runs through Jan. 8, 2017.

Chacón's distinctive, ink wash drawings have been recognized globally through major group shows in Asia, Central America, Europe and South America. Her work typically addresses memory and the perception of time. In her project for the Wadsworth Atheneum, Chacón studies the ephemeral nature of news imagery while also probing the odd relationship between Earth and the heavens posed by the age of human flight. Beginning with familiar images obtained from newspapers, telecasts and the internet, Chacón reconstructs human attempts-successful and failed alike-to conquer the heavens through advancements in technology. The result is 70 meticulously hand-wrought, and ultimately traditional, ink wash drawings that mine the frontiers of air and space along with the explorers of those outer limits: scientists, engineers, pilots, astronauts and daredevils.

"Dulce Chacón has had a longtime fascination with space and air," says Emily Hall Tremaine Curator of Contemporary Art Patricia Hickson. "Her beautiful renderings carefully and, at times, humorously investigate our obsession with exploring the great beyond, and capturing highly dramatic moments and even disastrous events. The artist rebuilds these visual stories in evocative displays that encourage new analyses of well-known events beyond what has been reported by the media. She shows us a strange and amazing world of innovation accomplished through human feats and failures."

The exhibition is organized in four series. The largest, "Zenith," reconstructs the narrative of Felix Baumgartner's 2012 attempt to break the world record for the longest free fall from space in 44 drawings. Chacón sourced the images for "Zenith" from YouTube, where the stunt was broadcast live. Clustered in groupings across the wall, the series traces the extreme skydiver's launch, rise, jump and landing. Another series, "Fallen Angels," features recreations of media photographs of astronauts and capsules after they have safely landed back on Earth, where the peculiar, rural landing sites contrast sharply with the technological marvels of space travel. Also included in "Fallen Angels" is a single, large drawing recreating the iconic "LIFE" magazine photograph of "Fallen Angel" Evelyn McHale, who jumped from the Empire State Building to her death in 1947. Drawings in the "Sound Locators" series are derived from century-old documentary photographs depicting the curious, clunky contraptions created for military purposes to locate the sounds of approaching enemy aircraft during World War I and World War II, before the invention of radar. The final series, "Hindenburg," documents the tragic end of the renowned German airship catching fire and burning over New Jersey in 1937, in six sequential images derived from historic newsreel footage.

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