The CENTER Awards: Project Launch Grant Honorable Mention: Arista Slater-Sandoval
Congratulations to Arista Slater-Sanoval for being selected for an Honorable Mention in CENTER’s Project Launch Grant recognizing her project, Blighted Expectations & Still Hearts. The Project Launch Grant supports a reportage, documentary or fine art series from New Mexico-based individuals. The Grant provides platforms for professional development opportunities, including complimentary participation and presentation at Review Santa Fe, Project Publication in Lenscratch, and an online exhibition at visitcenter.org.
Marisa Sage – Director & Head Curator, New Mexico State University Art Museum shares her thoughts on this selection:
In reviewing the 2021 Project Launch Grants, the strongest projects focused on photographically documenting climate and environmental changes that have a wide cultural impact both regionally and globally, causing sustainability issues that impact various communities. The projects chosen as finalists took their specific cultural needs and sensitivities into account when exploring and researching imperative concepts such as environmental racism, draught remediation, and miscarriage. All three grant finalists had elements of documentary, landscape, and portraiture photography integrated visually through thoughtful layout, image construction, and narrative. Each of the project finalists laid out the research behind their conceptual exploration within the body of work, the way that the work will be exhibited or printed, and how the funds provided by the grant would be used to carry out the project effectively. While the three finalists chosen were in various stages of their project development, they all had a clear vision of the outcome of their projects both conceptually and formally.
Marisa Sage is the Director and Head Curator of the New Mexico State University Art Museum in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Sage is a curator with a passion for emerging contemporary art and artists. Throughout her fifteen-year career, Sage has planned and executed over 100 international exhibitions, which included more than 200 individual artists globally. Previously, Sage served as the Director of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, in New York, NY, and Galleries Manager for Salisbury University Art Galleries, in Salisbury, Maryland, before that, she established Like the Spice Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which held over 65 exhibitions between 2006 and 2012. At NMSU Sage has curated “Off the Wall”, a two-parted exhibition tracing the history of Sol LeWitt’s relationship with NMSU, as well as showing the extent of his influence on a new generation of artists who use the surface of the wall as their canvas. Sage has written and received multiple grants for NMSU including the National Endowment for the Arts which funded the exhibition GEOMAGIC: Art, Science, and the Zuhl Collection. Sage is a New York native, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from Syracuse University and Master of Digital Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Arista Slater-Sandoval was born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan and moved in 2007 to Washington D.C. to pursue a BFA in photography at the Corcoran College of Art and Design. While there she completed a 5 months Teachers Assistance and residency program in New York city at the Center for Alternative Photography. After completing a BFA, she moved to Cambridge MA, and attend the College of Art and Design at Lesley University where she obtained a MFA in Fine Art Photography in 2013. While in grad school she pursued issues in communication, identity, love and romance thought alternative photographic processes.
Since moving to Santa Fe in 2016, she teaches full time at the Institute of American Indian Art while balancing studio time. She continues to work in alternative photographic processes and approaches while tackling large issues in feminine and multi-racial representation, domestic spheres and intimate relationships.
Blighted Expectations & Still Hearts
A blight, when referring to land, describes the barren wasteland of an area stripped of its ability to produce life. Visions of once plentiful fields laying fallow produces a profound sadness for the loss of resources and the waste of productivity.
When referring to the female body a blighted ovum speaks to a type of miscarriage most often occurring within the first trimester. In clinical terms, an anembryonic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop to produce a viable life. A pregnancy sac forms and grows but not the embryo itself, no fetal pole (heartbeat) is produced. Now blighted, the womb is a barren land not fit to sustain life, a stark comparison first coined by male doctors in the mid 1800’s.
The dated colloquial terminology used evokes a type of blame accompanied by shame that is peculiar when in association with the female body.
To say a women’s body is blighted and there by incapable to bring about life is completely myopic and damaging. A term applied to the body is consequently applied to the self. I am what my diagnosis says I am.
A miscarriage once does not mean infertility, yet the association of a barren wasteland feels permanent and irreversible. If the body is seen as land, then we must also acknowledge that land once fallow can provide life again.
This book is a reminder of the hope for life, the physical reality for my body, and the lived experiences of grieving two consecutive miscarriages.
As there was no life, no heartbeat, I do not mourn the loss of life but the temporary halting of expectations; an image of myself large in the mirror, the ache of my body after labor in my home, seeing a newborn being held by those I love. These fantasies are gone, for now.
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