Grimanesa Amoros is an American-Peruvian interdisciplinary artist. She creates light sculptures and installations that have been exhibited at museums in the United States and around the world. Being born and raised in Peru, she draws upon her cultural heritage as inspiration for her large-scale light-based installations. Amoros continues to be inspired by Peru’s history for her art, but does not hold an essentialist or nostalgic view of her subject.
Inspiration for her works are drawn from her diverse interests in the fields of social history, scientific research, and critical theory. Amoros makes use of sculpture, video, and lighting to create pieces that illuminate and spark conversations on our notions of personal identity and community. Through her art, she conveys a sense of ephemeral wonder, which entrances viewers from all different backgrounds and communities. She inspires others to become agents of empowerment.
Amoros studied at the prestigious Art Students League in New York, was a guest speaker at TEDGlobal 2014, became a recipient of the ‘NEA Visual Artist Fellowship’ and ‘NEA Artist Travel Grant’, and has the distinction of being part of the ‘Art In Embassies Program of the U.S.’, among many other awards and fellowships. Amoros has created and exhibited works for significant institutions such as the CAFA museum in China, the Ludwig Museum in Germany, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan, the Seoul National University Museum of Art, the Today Art Museum in China, and the FLAG Art Foundation in New York. She has been commissioned by both Federal and State agencies to create public works for such sites as Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Pablo Soleri Bridge in Arizona, Times Square in New York, and the Havana Biennial in Cuba.
In Life & In Work
Peruvian Cultural Heritage
It is incredible to be able to associate yourself with a country, as it strengthens one’s personal identity. My country of origin, Peru, has had a great impact on me, and was catalyst for my sculpture installation series UROS, which was inspired by the Peruvian Uros Islands. The Uru people live on floating islets, which are built using totora reeds, and require to be maintained on a daily basis by hand. Peru still maintains its traditional ways in crafts and handicrafts. Peruvians believe in Pachamama, our Mother Earth, who provides land and our fortune, for which we give thanks. Being Peruvian has taught me how to honor and respect Mother Earth.
As a young child, my first artistic experience began with my love of maps. I would study and reproduce the maps I found in my house and books. I would spend hours drawing them; my nearby surroundings would disappear as I'd become be so engrossed. Upon discovering my artistic inclinations, my mother enrolled me in art classes. This was a pivotal moment in my life and began my journey as an artist.
My transition to becoming an artist using light began in 2000 when I traveled to Iceland. I had woken up in the middle of the night and stepped outside, as I couldn’t sleep. I was greeted by a dazzling display of colors spread across the sky. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the phenomena was. Right away I thought to run and get my camera, but then decided that it was best to stay in the present moment and continue to enjoy the Northern Lights. From then on I made it my mission to translate that feeling of witnessing the Aurora Borealis into my light sculptures in order to share it with my viewers.
I’ve always said that ‘all I know, is that I don’t know anything’. My goal in life is always to continue learning and studying from as many people and cultures as I can. By keeping an open mind, I can continue to evolve as both an artist and a human.
I’ve traveled the globe and have had the good fortune to experience a variety of different environments and natural wildlife. All of these locations have been great sources of inspirations for me from the deserts of Egypt, to the salt flats of Bolivia, and the temples of Jordan and Lebanon.
I love ivy, flowers, and natural greenery. They have been central inspirations for several of my pieces, such as HEDERA and MARIPOSA DORADA.
Being near the Ocean has always given me energy. In Peru, going to the beach is a large part of the culture. My father would take us every weekend as children, and as a young adult, I couldn’t stand having a day go by without visiting the ocean. I used to run onto the shore and grab at the foam bubbles that formed on the beach. The shape and form of the sea foam have stayed with me my whole life, and can be seen in my installations.
I’ve always been fascinated with architecture, such as the works of Zaha Hadid, Arata Isozaki, and Herzog and de Meuron. Whenever I prepare to make a piece, I make sure the artwork will have a strong conversation with the architecture of the space. My goal when it comes to my work is to facilitate a natural conversation between the space, installation, and viewers.
My fellow humans have always been great sources of inspiration, and my work always has a goal of connecting the viewers to the piece. I’ve always felt it’s important to honor the viewers time. If I can capture just a few seconds of someone’s time in order to make them think, feel inspired, and awaken their creativity, I will have done my job.