erika niko barrios
I am a visual artist, born in Los Angeles in 1986 to my parents, Marta Hurtado and Jacobo Barrios, immigrants from El Salvador and Guatemala, respectively. In 2011, I graduated from University of California, Berkeley, where I received a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies. Since 2012, I have participated in many public art exhibitions, dedicating a significant amount of time to the development of a multidisciplinary practice that encompasses painting, ceramics, weaving, fiber, metal, and installation. In December of 2020, I graduated from the MFA Sculpture program at California State University, Long Beach, culminating in my thesis show, Chthonic Ruins, which was exhibited at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los Angeles gallery in January 2021. At CSULB I was the recipient of the Thomas J. Cloutier Sculpture Award and participated in the annual juried exhibition Insights at the Kleefield Contemporary Art Museum (2018, 2020).
My recent body of work, Chthonic Ruins, interweaves histories of oppression that are symbolized by the Utica Crib–a device used in 19th century insane asylums, mythologies of the monstrous feminine evoked by Medusa-like tentacles and the psychological imprints attached to these ideas. These pressurized states and projections are countered by the gestures of healing and ritualization connected to weaving, spinning, binding, making nets or armor, and embedding talismans within a circle of protection. Feminist theorist Donna Harroway’s term string figures, pertaining to the tentacular and networked tendrils of the past as well as possibilities for future reconfigurations, becomes an apt touchstone for this body of work. Traces of ritual performances provide a balm for the ruins of trauma, and spherical portals offer possibilities for new dimensions. This exhibition is reflective of my in-depth research and interest in combining multiple threads into transformative work that is culturally relevant with a nod towards optimism in our current fraught moment.