By Steve Rivera

The Colombian artist Delcy Morelos’ site-specific installation, “El Abrazo”, at Dia, Chelsea, is one of those rare experiences in the contemporary art world that is so palpable, so moving, it touches all of you.

First, a special shout to Dia Art Foundation, known for commissioning ambitious site-specific installations and the collection and preservation of work from the likes of Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, Walter de Maria, and others from a focused group of artists from the 1960s and 1970s.  Now, you can add the Latinx artist, Delcy Morelos, whose site specific installation at Dia, Chelsea, is both a physical and spiritual revelation that speaks to the Earthworks from the aforementioned 60s & 70s, but is here purposely more inclusive and expansive.

Now, why is “El Abrazo” important?  In the previous video, I briefly talked about Dia’s efforts to be more inclusive and work with a diversity of artists that are reflective of the world we live in.  So, Morelos’ selection by an evolving foundation and the manner in which she mesmerizes the viewer through seemingly all the senses is a paramount one.  Specifically, Morelos turns the idea of a site-specific installation on its head.  Made with recycled garden soil, clay from Dia, Beacon, coir, hay, cinnamon, clove, copaiba oil, Eco Tackifier, water, and fragrance, Morelos simultaneously disarms us via the works monumental scale and sweet, earthly, aroma.  

The crescendo is the cleave or triangular entrance into this otherworldly structure slightly suspended from the ground.  As you make your approach, this mixture of clay and soil, fragrance and water, gets closer and closer culminating in “El Abrazo”, an enveloping, intimate embrace with the earth.  If you stay long enough, the experience is astonishing.  Being nestled in this way was an exercise in opening oneself to that which this city boy can take most for granted.  Delcy Morelos’ “El Abrazo” is a seminal piece that has the power to change the way we see ourselves and each other, and our ongoing relationship to our living, breathing, and let’s say, tender planet.     

Steve Rivera