A new installation of sculptures by Mexican-born artist Bosco Sodi, “Origen,” places 14 of his handmade clay spheres at the Harvard Art Museums and marks the first-ever presentation of art on the museums’ outdoor Broadway terrace. In a first for a U.S. installation of the artist’s work, Sodi has also unveiled three gold-glazed spheres as part of his site-specific arrangement. The works are all on loan from the artist and Kasmin, New York.
“Bosco Sodi: Origen” will remain on display through June 9, 2024. The installation has been organized by Mary Schneider Enriquez, the Houghton Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museums.
Sodi’s practice explores the Earth’s elements, marrying age-old traditions of sculpting clay with a contemporary vision of creating simple universal forms that prompt reflection. “Origen,” which the artist defines from the Spanish as “source,” signifies both the center of a circle or sphere and the beginnings of the planet, including all the attendant geological, historical, and spiritual connotations of the word.
Sodi has long admired the aesthetics of Japanese wabi sabi, which he interprets as operating on principles that favor imperfection and impermanence; his approach celebrates the varied, irregular fissures and faults that enliven his clay forms and their site-specific installations. He creates his spheres by hand in Oaxaca, Mexico, where centuries ago (approximately 500 B.C.–900 A.D.) the Zapotec culture flourished and was celebrated for their sophisticated terracotta sculptures. Building on this history, Sodi works with Oaxacan artisans, using local clay to sculpt each sphere, drying them outside for up to eight months, and then firing them in a makeshift kiln built on a Pacific Ocean beach. The resulting forms reveal the effects of nature’s forces — sun, sea air, and fire — as demonstrated by the myriad cracks, chips, and blackened and crusty patches that distinguish each sphere.