New Sculpture Professor Quick to Make Mark on Texas Art Scene

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Artificial grass and compact discs – hundreds, if not thousands of them – play a large role in the installations created by Leticia Bajuyo, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Assistant Professor of Art. A sculpture artist in her third semester at the Island University, Bajuyo’s work is already popping up around Corpus Christi and beyond. 

Currently, Bajuyo is one of several Department of Art and Design faculty members whose work is featured in “reCollection,” an exhibition based on the notion of collections and the role they play in the creative process. The all-faculty exhibition runs through Dec. 7, at the Islander Art Gallery, 4024 Weber Rd.

Bajuyo’s first solo exhibition in Corpus Christi opened in March of 2018. Titled, “Edge Friction,” this show featured several installations as well as numerous smaller works at K Space Contemporary in downtown Corpus Christi March of 2018. This exhibition led to her inclusion in the new collaboration between K Space Contemporary and La Palmera. Bajuyo’s public art display, “Shiny Entropy,” can be seen alongside works by Island University faculty and staff members Greg Reuter, Lars Roeder and Jennifer Arnold in La Palmera. Bajuyo’s display at La Palmera contains elements of a larger installation that was displayed in the Nashville, Tennessee, airport in 2017.

In these local displays during the past year alone, the range of materials and size is quickly evident. Bajuyo received her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Prior to joining the Art Department at A&M-Corpus Christi, she served as a visiting assistant professor in sculpture at the University of Notre Dame from January 2016 to May 2017 and as a professor of art at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, from 2001 to 2015. 

The combination of traditional sculpture materials, community collected items, and approach to exhibition spaces as a canvas is evident in both Bajuyo’s studio practice and in her teaching. For example, Bajuyo designs public art opportunities into her courses like this fall when Performing Arts Center Director James Moore welcomed sculpture students to present ideas and models to him, which yielded several unique site-sensitive artworks by Sculpture 1 and 2 students.

Bajuyo readily shares her process for developing her public artworks and the inspirations behind the installations.  Astronomy figures heavily in Bajuyo’s sculpture work; many of her installations include a vortex or are based on astronomical concepts. For example, as presently installed in Houston Texas, her artwork titled “Event Horizon,” features four vortices and the title is a direct reference to the point of no return on the edge of a black hole, Bajuyo says.

“The recurring idea behind this is where do memories go? When you throw something in the landfill, it never really goes away. Similarly, when you forget something, it’s not really gone,” she said. “With CDs, the memory is still in there; you just might not be able to play it because it’s scratched, or it’s broken, or we don’t want it .”

This current installation of “Event Horizon” is an ambitious project inside the re-purposed physical structure of the old Success Rice Silos. It is one of 12 curated installations featured in “Peak Shift,” the signature exhibition of a citywide art festival in Houston called Sculpture Month Houston. Now in its third year, SMH consists of more than 40 participating venues including commercial galleries, nonprofit spaces, educational facilities and museums. "Peak Shift" and Bajuyo's “Event Horizon” closes Dec. 1, 2018. 

The sculptural installation that Bajuyo created “Event Horizon” combines three silos and the artwork is comprised of curving a curving wood structure that is 15 feet high, 60 feet wide, and is covered in approximately 15,000 donated CDs and DVDs. Bajuyo traveled regularly from Corpus Christi to Houston for two months to build her installation.

 “The sculpture is this fabric of discs shaped into a series of vortices that pull away from you as if the discs and their memories are being sucked away. And the idea of ‘Event Horizon’ is that there’s a point of no return. At some point, each of these choices that you make deem a path that you’re on. At some point you can’t change direction; this is what you’ve created,” Bajuyo said.

Equally comfortable with traditional sculpting materials, Bajuyo said she is drawn to the notion of stored memory that is found in physical media storage formats.

“I started using CDs and DVDs in 2009 and I continue to accept donations for future artworks.  When I work with the discs, I borrow its voice-the idea that material already has,” Bajuyo said.

The new year is already shaping up to be a busy one for Bajuyo, who teaches sculpture classes at the Island University. The A&M-Corpus Christi faculty member will co-chair a conference panel session at the 2019 College Art Association Annual Conference in New York City in February. Bajuyo also plans to feature new work in the A&M-Corpus Christi Art Faculty Biennial 2019 at the Art Museum of South Texas. In addition, she has an outdoor sculpture on exhibit in the 14th annual Sculpture Garden Exhibit at the Kemp Center for the Arts in Wichita Falls which she will be returning to deinstall in May, 2019.

“I am grateful for the art opportunities that I have had since coming to A&M-Corpus Christi,” Bajuyo said. “2018 has been an exciting year, and it has been an honor to install a solo show in Corpus Christi at K Space Contemporary, a solo exhibition at the Rudolph Blume Gallery in Houston, and then also being a part of Sculpture Month Houston. Reflecting on the art communities, connections, and creative energy in and around Corpus Christi, in my first year and a half in Texas, I can’t describe it any other way than saying I feel welcomed and supported. Thank you.”