Music Boxes is a mixed media project, which started in 1998. The pieces made of found objects are interactive. When the public play them, they discover moves, sounds and surprises.
The painting Si Mi Jadeo Te Evoca (1996) inspired me to start working on Music Boxes. In this piece, there is a box and certain objects in it as part of the composition. Nevertheless, curiously, this wasn’t the first three-dimensional box I created. The first one is actually the Beauty-Maker Machine (1998), which evolved from another painting of mine. That is how I decided to begin translating my language used in painting and printmaking into three-dimensional works, thus making a natural transition to mixed media.
Originally, my idea was to build Strange Machines, referring to the uselessness of those machines that are manufactured and seen as technological advancement. In the search for machines that might actually fill a human need, I created La Maquina Para Resistir and Holograma for mending wounds of the heart.
At the beginning of the process, I faced technical problems imitating the machine appearance. At first, I used small motors from toys and clocks, but those didn’t yield the desired visual result. And so the search continued until I discovered the mechanical elements of music boxes. Consequently, the creations that had originally been conceived as Strange Machines became my own version of music boxes.
Music Boxes are made of objects that are found rather than specially looked for. The boxes themselves are made of wood and metal and are of different sizes. They share certain recurring elements, such as music, time, and the fact that they are interactive. Like a life lesson, in my eyes, these boxes are committed to being complex without abandoning simplicity and vice versa since, for me, one derives from the other. Music Boxes explore in depth themes universal to humans, such as loneliness, pain, truth, death, hope, longing, growth, and transcendence, at the same time revealing me as a social being.
The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco was the venue where I first exhibited my boxes, and the response of the viewers was positive. In the year 2002, I was a recipient of a grant from the Gasworks Foundation in London to participate in an artist residency in Havana, Cuba; and so I became part of Proyecto Batiscafo. This served as an incentive to continue with the elaboration of this project. My initial goal was to create 25 boxes, of which the one I planned to call the Time Machine would be the last. In fact, this box was part of the installation Cuando Me Vaya (When I Go Away), shown in the exhibition CaliVera at the Museum of Oakland, California in 2005. At the suggestion of friends and supporters of Music Boxes, their creation continued. I was invited to the de Young Museum with an artist residency in 2006, and this allowed the project to give continuity to one of the fundamental principles of Music Boxes – to be interactive. This same year, I was invited by Yvon Le Bot to be part of a group exhibition at El Museo de la Ciudad de México.
It took me 16 years from the beginning of this project to materialize the image from Si Mi Jadeo Te Evoca that gave birth to Music Boxes and finally create Sueño Enano.