Contemporary Craft in Focus: Ohio Goza y Más

Brothers and glass artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre create art that blends cultures and objects with a sense of humor

SAAM
June 15, 2023
Media - 2021.84 - SAAM-2021.84_1 - 143180
Einar De La Torre, Jamex De La Torre, Ohio Goza y Mas, 2013, blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Todd Wingate and Steven Cason, courtesy of the artists and Koplin Del Rio Gallery, 2021.84
Einar De La Torre, Jamex De La Torre, Ohio Goza y Mas, 2013, blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media, 67 × 67 × 9 in. (170.2 × 170.2 × 22.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Todd Wingate and Steven Cason, courtesy of the artists and Koplin Del Rio Gallery, 2021.84

Einar and Jamex de la Torre are brothers and collaborators, whose artwork includes blown glass sculptures, mixed media, and installation art. Originally from Mexico, they moved to the U.S. as children and currently live and work on both sides of the border.  

The de la Torre brothers' artworks are humorous, additive, and multifaceted in a style that they describe as “multi-layered baroque.” They made this wall sculpture, Ohio Goyza y Más, after an Aztec calendar, a visual dating system adapted by many ancient Mesoamerican nations. The title translates to “Ohio Enjoy and More,” and, when pronounced, sounds like “Good Morning” in Japanese. It represents their humor, where the piece was made (Ohio), and their multifaceted view of people and time. 

A detailed view of a blown glass sculpture with a face in the center.

Installation photography of This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2022, Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum; All photos by Albert Ting

For this sculpture, the brothers gather countless motifs into a celebration of blended cultures: Kewpie dolls, with surprising objects in their bellies, invented in the early twentieth century by American Rose O’Neill and popularized in Japan; Mano poderosa (the all-powerful hand) from Mexican Catholic devotional imagery; sonrientes (grinning figures) from Mesoamerican ceramics; and golden tumis, ceremonial knives with semicircular blades, from the ancient Andean Moche culture. Casts of butterflies and insects symbolize transformation and migration. “We’re using found objects. Don’t love that term,” Einar told an audience while speaking at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “We usually spend a lot of time looking for the right objects and we have a library of a bunch of material culture to draw from and this material culture informs our work.” 

Installation view of a circular blown glass sculpture hanging on a gallery wall. There is an open wooden case on a stand in front of it.

Watch Einar and Jamex de la Torre speak on their art practice. They were two of 10 featured artists who participated in Crafting a Better Future: The Renwick 50th Anniversary Symposium. Discover other contemporary craft artists currently on view at SAAM’s Renwick Gallery. This story is part of a series that takes a closer look at selected contemporary craft artists and artworks with material drawn from exhibition texts. Rebekah Mejorado contributed to this story.

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