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36Floating the other way

Juan Luis Mesa 1961, Medellín, Colombia. Lives and works in Medellín, Colombia

The affirmation: ‘everything is art’, defines art, paradoxically, within immense limits. Thus, the definition delivered by the statement is that of the practices, experiences, and the happening conditions that permit the integration to scenarios beyond the traditional and canonical places. It is not a definition of art’s characteristics. It is in this horizon of practices that the following art exhibit is inscribed. The practices raise the question about what is considered art? how is possible to transcend a monolithic conception of ‘art piece’ from the pedagogical setting?

Juan Luis Mesa has worked as a professor in the School of Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín for 20 years, which has allowed him to develop, in parallel ways, his work as an artist, a teacher and a researcher. He has been especially interested in the relationship between object, space and the city as well as the teaching of sculpture.

He studied art in Medellin and then was awarded a scholarship by the Organization of American States to pursue a Masters degree in Sculpture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) between 1988 and 1991. His thesis focused on the analysis of the relationship between art and craft, based on the type of sculptural work he did at the time from utilizing artisanal crafts or artisanal materials as “ready mades.”

He became a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin in 1993. He has since combined his teaching with several academic posts, including Director of the School of Arts, Director of the Arts Curriculum, and Academic Coordinator of the Master’s of Fine Arts. He has been focused on the teaching of sculpture with an emphasis on the notion of sculptural object, the relationship between object and space and between art and public space. He is also part of the Arts Research Group (Grupo de Investigación en Artes) with which he has participated in several university supported research projects that have allowed him to deepen his work. Since 2005, he has been part of a group of professors from the School of Arts, which promoted the implementation and opening of the Masters of Visual Arts. Since 2009, he has been a professor in the program, promoting research work around objects, spaces, places and interventions.

He is currently starting a new research project on the teaching of sculpture in Colombia. He seeks with this project to build networks with universities that promote pedagogy through boom (auge) and audiovisual media.

As an artist, he has been exhibiting his work since 1982. He has received several awards, including the First Biennial of Art in Bogotá in 1988, the Regional Hall of Artists in 1997 and an honorable mention in the Salón Nacional de Artistas in 1998. He was chosen to participate in the exhibition “Art Installation in Antioquia,” which will be held in November 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art of Medellin. He has published several articles about his practice, theory and pedagogy of sculpture, including “Narratives on Urban Art,” published in the book Experiences, Talk, Stories, Narrative and Speeches on the City. Medellín 1975-2001.

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