Hanging lamps made from recycled plastic bottles in a workshop established by the Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón Hanging lamps made from recycled plastic bottles in a workshop established by the Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón

Colombia lies in the north western part of South America with Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, bordering Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and the Brazilian Amazon the country is bio-diverse and one of the world's richest in water resources. Curator José Roca, curator of Latin American Art at Tate & artistic director of Flora ars+natura in Bogotá, and the Colombian writer Alejandro Martin have centered their exhibition around the major rivers flowing through Colombia - a large feature in the novels of  Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in many places these great water ways are the only means of transport.

Dye made by Susanna Mejia Dye made by Susanna Mejia


Most pieces on view in some way relate to the rivers or Colombia's indigenous culture. Susanna Mejia is a painter turned ethnobotanist who spent seven years  with indigenous communities along the Amazon studying their methods of creating and using vegetable dyes, the first gallery hosts the vibrant installation Color Amazonia, sheets of paper, tinted in rich earth tones, cover three walls; a suspended overhead rack hung with dried plant fiber forms a low ceiling. Artist Abel Rodriguez, a member of the Nonuya indigenous group, does ink-and-watercolor drawings of rivers and rain forests for a Dutch conservation group, Tropenbos International. Celebrated graphic designer David Consuegra (1939-2004), who took inspiration from decorative patterns of pre-hispanic metalwork artistry is the motif of wall-paper created by Tangrama, the Bogota collective  consisting of Mónica Páez, Margarita García and Nicolás Consuegra, David's son. One of my favorite pieces are the the hanging lamps, that reminisce of Indian design patterns, created by Indian basket weavers from recycled plastic bottles in a workshop established by the Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón.


The Bard Graduate Center, which this year is celebrating it's 20th anniversary is known for scholarly exhibitions examining western decorative arts and design. A prime example is William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain which was on view in New York in the fall and the Victoria & Albert in London during the spring. Waterweavers is the first exhibition of contemporary art hosted at the galleries in eight years, the BGC has entered the contemporary millieu with a bang as they were the first gallery to launch access to the interpretive material with google glass.


The Center's resident exhibition designer Ian Sullivan, who designed last years Venice Biennale under the direction of Massimiliano Gioni, has managed to invitingly frame the eclectic material in the galleries creating a strikingly beautiful and thought provoking interplay of work on view. The exhibition is full of contrasts as it intermixes objects from the realm of art and design. On the upper level of the exhibition visitors are invited to look at Clemencia Echeveri's video Treni, capturing the river as bodies of those killed in drug are thrown into and engulfed by the fast-flowing water while seated on magnificently crafted smooth bentwood chairs made from native bamboo tree roots by the architect Marcelo Villegas.


The exhibition, which is accompanied by an innovative catalog designed by the prolific Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom, is on view at Bard Graduate Center, New York until August 10th, 2014.