In the ODD Gallery: Z’otz* Collective

October 22 – December 3, 2022
Z’OTZ* COLLECTIVE | Habits of the Speaking Shadows

OPENING: Saturday, October 22nd:
ARTIST TALK at 7:30PM | RECEPTION to follow
ODD Gallery at Dënäkär Zho / KIAC

Youth Workshop: Wednesday, October 19, 3 – 5PM, KIAC Ballroom, FREE
Public Workshop: FRIDAY, OCT 21, 7:30-9:30PM, FREE, KIAC Ballroom

Z’OTZ* COLLECTIVE was formed out of a shared interest in collaborative art making. We are three visual artists of Latin American heritage living in Toronto. Drawing is our primary means of expression and is used to respond to each other and to what surrounds us. The direct approach allows us to create idiosyncratic and humorous images that examine migration, transformation and regeneration. The work connects to the storytelling traditions of our Latin American background, with mythological beings, animals and symbols.

We produce drawings, paintings, collages, sculptures, and site–specific installations and use a system of rotation: each of us works on a different piece at the same time and then we exchange them. Intuition and chance drive the process, as we respond to each other’s forms and marks.

The concept of the niche will be our point of departure for our site-specific installation. The original meaning of the French word “nicher” is “to make a nest”. We are intrigued by the niche as a space to incubate, collect, investigate, and share stories. The Roman Catholic nicho, made of a wood or tin box, housed religious objects and served as small shrines to connect believers to their spirituality. Prehispanic civilizations used niches as architectural elements in their temples.

We will make contemporary niches from white painted cardboard boxes of various sizes and shapes, and staple them to the wall. They will house found objects, small sculptures and natural elements we find on site. The niches will be strategically placed within mural. In some cases, the marks drawn on the wall will continue over the sides of the niches, to integrate them with the central images.

The edges of each niche serve as boundaries to divide one story from another. At the same time, they work together within the larger installation to become a broader story. They form a community that interconnects, but also leave space for the viewer to invent his or her stories within. In this way, the viewer is part of the collaborative process.

Z’otz* Collective is comprised of Nahúm Flores (Honduras), Erik Jerezano (Mexico), and Ilyana Martínez (Mexico/Canada). Since 2004, they have collaborated on drawings, sculptures, and site–specific installations. They have attended residencies in Croatia and Serbia, where they initiated work with ceramic sculpture.  

In 2018, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts commissioned Z’otz* to create a series of ceramic sculptures for their permanent collection. The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art invited the group to participate in a residency to produce work for a solo show this year.

In conjunction with Art Windsor-Essex, they lead a series of experimental drawing workshops with migrant agricultural workers, in Leamington, Ontario in summer 2022. They have received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. The three members were awarded grants for their individual practices from the Pollock–Krasner Foundation in New York City.

Z’otz* Collective has had over 30 solo exhibitions and over 40 group exhibitions in museums, galleries and artist-run centres in Canada, Mexico, USA, Serbia, and China. The Collective is currently working to integrate animation into their projects.

image: Z’otz* Collective, Singularity of the Lake, mixed media on paper, 11 x 15″, 2022