Gabriela Salazar: Observed

January 24 to February 25, 2024

The Gallery at Heimbold Visual Arts Center

Gallery Hours: 

Weekdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Weekend 1-4 p.m.


There will be an opening reception for Observed on January 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. 

There will be a closing event on February 27 from 12 to 3 p.m,

during which all are invited to participate in the breaking apart of Leaves (One 365 (November, December)).”


Responding to the overwhelming scale of the global climate crisis, Salazar’s work focuses on the beauty, fragility, and temporality of the present. The climate crisis “impacts your day-to-day life: your body, your family, your environment,” as Salazar writes, describing how she transforms seemingly banal or unremarkable items into a meditation on an ever-grasping relationship to permanence, care, and safety. 

The works in Observed are part of a series Salazar calls “Leaves,” and were all made during her residency at Sarah Lawrence. Laying down prepared sheets of water-soluble paper over various things tied to her intimate world—leaves and branches, food scraps, her architect parents’ drawing stencils, rusty nails, screws, hinges and brackets, and her daughter’s building toys—Salazar then wets the paper until it returns to pulp. As the pulp redries, it becomes a cast of the field of matter, and absorbs the pigments of the plants and objects. These works shift in scale, between that which can be held in one’s hand, and the macro-and-microcosmic, as the applied pigments, residues of plant matter, gesture to other worlds. 

For Observed, Salazar uses the windows and layout of her home as the embedded structure for these casts and their installation. In one wall-sized work titled “Leaves (One 365 (November, December)), Salazar reflects on the 365 days of the year 2023, a sheet of letter–sized paper representing each day. The embedded stencils, hinges, and Duplo Legos remind us of the intergenerational transference of knowledge of our built environment, and the ways in which we access our relationship to its construction and endurance. Even arrested as they are in the “Leaves,” many of the pigments are not light-fast and will fade. Realizing this, we are reminded that even the most durable of objects and states are also in a constant, if invisible, flux. In looking, we are asked to move between different definitions of time, between time’s moment-to-moment unfolding in the now, and the impossibility of duration, as these things won’t last. What does it mean to observe, to care for, to revere, our ephemeral material world?

On February 27, 2024, in a process of creating and sharing time and attention, Salazar will break apart and distribute all of “Leaves (One 365 (November, December))” to the exhibitions’ final viewers and visitors. This action echoes her Climate Museum-commissioned work “Low Relief for High Water,” which was a water-soluble cast of the windows of her childhood home, broken apart and shared on October 10, 2021, in Washington Square Park, NYC. 


Gabriela Salazar, born in New York City to architects from Puerto Rico, creates material-curious work about the ways in which humans gather meaning through their relationship with the structured and natural environments that surround them. Salazar has had solo exhibitions at NURTUREart, The Lighthouse Works, Efrain Lopez Gallery (Chicago), The River Valley Arts Collective, SLAG Gallery, and the Climate Museum (Washington Square Park, NYC). Her work has been included in group shows at the Whitney Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, the Queens Museum, El Museo del Barrio, The Drawing Center, David Nolan Gallery, Someday Gallery, and at Storm King Art Center. Salazar’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Hyperallergic, and The Brooklyn Rail. Residencies and grants include Workspace (LMCC), Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Abrons Arts Center, “Open Sessions” at The Drawing Center, the Socrates Fellowship, a City Artist Corps Grant, and a 2023 NYFA/NYSCA Fellowship in Craft/Sculpture. She holds an MFA from RISD, a BA from Yale University, and lives, works, and teaches in NYC.

A Collaboration Between Groundwork Hudson Valley, The Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Bronx Community College, and Sarah Lawrence College