Walker’s Point Center for the arts 911 W. National Ave. Tues-Sat 12-5pm www.wpca-milwaukee.org
Confluencia, or confluence, carries several connotations: the joining of two ideas, collaboration between two people, a juncture or intersection. Leandro Soto and Raoul Deal, who together created Confluencias, the featured exhibit at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (WPCA) through May 22, have stretched the idea of confluence beyond any literal interpretation with their sprawling, chaotic installation piece. “The major themes of the exhibit are migration and Diaspora,” says Jessica St. John, executive director of WPCA. “It also deals with — and this is the part I’m still trying to kind of wrap my mind around — the story of Oggun, which is a Yoruba Pantheon deity.” According to St. John, when beginning the project, both artists set up in separate rooms within WPCA and worked independently. Soto, originally from Cuba and presently living in Phoenix, focused his energy on creating an enormous cloth map of the world. “Being from Cuba,” St. John says, “I think the theme of migration was maybe more significant to him.” Deal, who lives in Milwaukee, created a space with a dizzying array of visuals. Wooden shoe forms were tacked to the wall at eye level, dancing around the text of the story of Oggun. The story wraps fluidly around the wall, explaining how the god of iron and creativity, continually attempts to close the gap between humans and the gods by building a bridge, only to see it destroyed each time. In the center of the room, aprons hang from the ceiling emblazoned with conflicting ideals: rational vs. organic, idea vs. necessity, construction vs. deconstruction. So where is the confluence? Soto and Deal blasted a hole through the wall separating their respective spaces. Through the hole parades an army of wooden shoe forms on a bridge of rusted metal grating and broken sticks. “One interpretation of Confluencias is that it is the joining, or coming together, of two artistic images,” says St. John. The exhibit is impressive in both scale and imaginative scope yet implies a sort of tension between the two artistic visions. Soto prefers to keep the observer at bay, surrounding the cloth map with a metal gate, wire, and rope. Deal invites the viewer in for close inspection; most of his objects are approachable. Nonetheless, the artists have succeeded in fueling discussion on both artistic and political levels.