Micaela de Vivero


Oro no es/ Gold, is it not?

By Joy Sperling

Micaela de Vivero was born in Munich, Germany and grew up in Quito, Ecuador. She graduated from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and received an M.F.A. from Alfred University in New York. She now lives, teaches, and has an art practice in the United States. She travels globally to work and exhibit her sculpture, in part to fulfill a commitment to making transcultural artistic connections that are foundational to her intellectual artistic practice. Intersectionality suffuses and informs Vivero’s sculpture . Her art supports Stuart Hall’s contention that diasporic subjects “speak, sing, and write so eloquently” (171) because they:

“learn to inhabit more than one identity, dwell in more than one culture, and speak in more than one language….[Their] cultural identity is always something, but it is never just one thing: such identities are always open, complex, under construction, taking part in an unfinished game…[T]hey move into the future through a symbolic detour through the past.” (173-4)

Moreover, a single visual object in one of Micaela de Vivero’s pieces can “mean” in multiple ways, both in space and in time. Meaning and message, image and emotion are unfixed and unstable, “delinked” from the norm and function as slippery and multi-accented “sliding signifiers” in Hall’s sense. Micaela de Vivero’s art is interlaced with echoes of her lived history in Ecuador, her understanding of and empathy with Latin American history and her transactions with today’s globalized culture and economy, as well as by her other lived histories in her homes in the United States and around the world. Her work is also clearly situated within decolonial theory. There is no quick or easy way to address the wreckage left by colonial powers globally, but one of the most significant prevailing theories is that of decoloniality, which has emerged in Latin America. It posits that the only possible way to repair societies fundamentally damaged by colonialism in the ‘Global South’ is not to overthrow or negate the colonial matrices of power but to “delink” them from the colonial paradigm—to challenge Eurocentrism and all of its assumptions, including the concepts of Modernity and Modernism—and to interrogate each local structure as it is “delinked” from the colonial. Thus, while larger global systems of power and commerce must be challenged, so too must local systems such as religion, ethnicity, gender, class, and even regionality.

Starting during the COVID-19 lockdown, Micaela de Vivero has made a number of large handmade-paper murals from dry Abaca pulp (leaves of a banana tree) and flax pulp (linseed and the basis of linen fiber), which she moistens with water and layers on large screens to make very large murals. The process is complicated and time consuming. The images produced have an innate sense of fragility and instability, having been created in an atmosphere of unreality and uncertainty—of being locked at home, fearing for herself and her family (close by and afar), for the present and the future, experimenting with new ideas and new crafts alone with limited access to materials, equipment, and external expert advice or assistance, and left to the mercies of time and changes in temperature and humidity. And, unlike manufactured paper, they are inherently fragile objects often subject to cracking and tearing. Paper bears cultural meaning: it is a medium upon which humans have written for centuries; power has been accorded to those with either the ability or need to write in history; the handwritten page holds significance; it facilitates the mapping of the known and unknown. Early maps were not only the means by which we found our way around the world, but they were the way nations claimed ownership of places—by drawing parts of the New World, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, and the English claimed parts of it as their own, regardless of who lived there before them. German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt who, although he made a self-funded scientific exploration of Latin America in 1800, was granted an audience by Charles IV of Spain before his expedition and was granted passports, travel permits, and powerful letters of introduction that enabled him to impose the most extensive European cartography and typology on the places, peoples, and plants of Latin America to create a series of systems and structures that have proven almost impossible to retract. The mapping of Latin America exponentially increased the search for gold and other raw materials as well as the exploitation of indigenous labor immediately after the widespread publication of Von Humboldt’s maps.  Mapping holds particular significance in Vivero’s work.

In Contested Territories, a large multi paper mural,Vivero extends this narrative to focus specifically on mapping as a symbolic act of possession. The surface of Contested Territories is punctuated by a series of open-ended forms that are partly drawn with thread on the surface of hand-made paper and partly painted in washes of soft colors. These forms appear like incomplete islands or as islands that appear to rise from the ocean and fall back into it with tidal changes or climate change. They suggest the fleeting nature of territorial possession and, by extension, colonial power in geological history. Once again, Vivero asks the viewer to consider the complicated and many-layered question of possession and power and the hubris of claiming sovereignty over “undiscovered” land and its indigenous people. The map is edged in (fake) gold; its rough outline and natural-colored paper suggest an old, long surviving, or valuable map that has some significance. There is no key to any of Vivero’s maps. Nothing within them is identified—their meaning is encoded, hidden, and deferred. Yet, we sense that these maps are about acquisition and repression: the presence of gold robs them of their innocence and thrusts them into the Western orbit in which money (in the form of gold) equals power. Today, more than ever, we associate gold with power, aggression, and display (often ostentatious displays of power in the form of conspicuous consumption). Even the color gold has been debased. Too much gold feels gaudy, excessive, and unreal. Perhaps that is why it is important to her that her gold is not real: it tarnishes, it is half hidden, and it is intimately just copper, which may have high use-value but has very low exchange-value.

Joy Sperling is professor emerita of Art History and Visual Culture at Denison University.  She is currently finishing a book on women artists in the American Southwest 1910-1950. But most recently, she has written on women sculptors for Hyperallergic, Art Critical, and for the Figge Museum, IA.

Micaela de Vivero
e-mail: micaelavive@hotmail.com


1999Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
Master of Fine Arts / Sculpture
1996Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador
Baccalaureus Artium / Arts


2020Denison University, USA
Durf Grant Recipient
(2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012,
2011, 2010, 2008, 2007)
2017Denison University, USA
R.C. Good Faculty Fellowship
2015Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, USA
Grant through New Genre Arts Festival, Tulsa, OK

Solo Exhibitions

2021Olin Art Gallery
Washington & Jefferson College, Washington, PA, USA
“The You and the I,” Sep 10 – Oct 15
Gallery 310
Marietta College, Marietta, OH, USA
“Oro no es/ Gold, is it not?” Aug 30 – Sep 30
Acropolis of Kavala, Greece
“Current,” Aug 7 – 13
2019CERES Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA
“and on a windy day it got caught on a tree ,” June 25- July 20
2017 Atelier Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, France
“Learning from Cézanne’s Sainte-Victoire,” Dec 4 – 29
CERES Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA
“Limbs,” May 23-June 17
2016Kansas City Artists Coalition, Kansas City, MO USA
“The You and the I,” October 7 – November 4
Pentasiete, Quito, Ecuador
“Oro no es,” January 7-15
2015Graven Feather, Toronto, Canada
“Germinating Brick,” July 2 – 25Living Arts, Tulsa, OK, USA
“The You and the I,” March 6 – April 23
2014CERES Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA
“The You and the I,” April 29 – May 24
2012 CERES Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA
“There is always a part of sky to soar,” June 19 – July 14
2011El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, Buffalo, NY, USA
“(Im)possible Interventions”, September 16 – Oct. 28
2010CERES Gallery, Chelsea, NY, USA
“nodes,” March 2- 27

Group Exhibitions

2021Howard County Center for the Arts, Ellicott City, Maryland, USA
two person exhibition with Marcia Wolfson Ray, Aug 21 – Oct 2
Borders – Venice International Art Fair, Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello
“Bodies + Cities,’ June 15 – July 04, 2021
2021 CERES Gallery, NYC, NY, “Outside My Ouvre,” Jan 6 – 30
2019Galería en el Mercado Municipal, Rota, Spain
Artistas de Agosto en PINEA – August 27
2019 Gallery 175, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, US
Juried exhibition by the Art League of Rhode Island
“Twisting Fibers; An Art for All Reasons,” March 8 – May 8
2018Museu de Lanificios, Covilhã, Portugal
“Montanha Mágica,” November 2-9
2018 Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA
Juried exhibition part of Sculpture X symposium
“Igniting Change,” August 31 – Sep. 29
2017Denison Art Space, Newark Ohio, USA
“Union Block,” Nov. 29, 2017 – Feb. 1, 2018
Riffe Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, USA
2017 Biennial Juried Exhibition, Nov. 2, 2017 – Jan. 6, 2018
2016The University Gallery
Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilant MI, USA
“New Fibers 2016,” Oct 26 – Dec 7
Dedo Maranville University Gallery
Valdosta State University, Valdosta GA, USA
“Material Transformation,” Sep. 19 – Oct. 7
2016 Ceres Gallery, Chelsea, NY
“Summer Celebration,” June 22 – July 16
2014Water Tower Art Festival, Sofia, Bulgaria, June 20 – 25
Art Access Gallery, Columbus, OH, USA
“From Another Place,” Jan. 31 – March 1
2013Carnegie Gallery, Columbus Met. Library, Columbus, OH
“Seis Latinas,” September 25 – October 18
Portas Abertas, Forum Eugenio de Almeida, Evora, Portuga
July 11 – Oct 6
2012Bienal de Arte Contemp. Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Centro Cultural Borges, Oct. 3-10
FiberPhiladelphia, Philadelphia, PA, USA
International biennial for innovative fiber/textile art
Crane Arts Building, Icebox Project Space
“Outside Inside the Box”, March 2 – April 12
Saratoga Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
“Time.space.place.” Feb. 4 – March 31
2011XVth Alternative Art Festival, Yerevan, Armenia
Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art,
April 8-23
Ohio Art League, Columbus, Ohio
“Espejismos (Mirages),” August 4 – 27
2010Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI
ArtPrize, September 22 – November 20
Centro de Historia, Zaragoza, Spain
“Quito en Zaragoza,” June 9 – September 5
Art Access Gallery, Columbus, OH, USA
Two person show with Elena Oesterwalder and
music performance by Randall Harrison
“Junctions,” May 4 – 31
Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery, Columbus, OH, USA
Ohio Art League Spring Juried Exhibition, March 2 – April 27
Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY, USA
“Ecuadorian Renaissance in NY 2010,” January 16- 31
2009-2010Ohio Visual Artists Registry Annual Juried Show,
Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH, USA
November 9, 2009 – January 3, 2010


2021Catalog of exhibition: Oro no es/ Gold, is it not?
2021 Art Reveal Magazine, Issue 61
2021 Art Reveal Magazine – September 10
2021 Creative Quarterly 63
A Journal of Art and Design – page 14
2021 Creating Futures – Online Creative Community
2021 Artists Responding To – Issue 9 – page 22
2020The Mass – May 2020 – pages 75-78
2018Hyperallergic, June 29
igniting change – catalog of exhibition curated by Saul Ostrow
part of Sculpture X symposium Bowling Green State University and
2017Columbus Dispatch, Dec. 17
La Provence, daily newspaper, Aix-en-Provence, France
“Venue apprendre de Cezanne” by Amandine ARRIGHI 12-Dec
20162016 New Fibers 2016 – exhibition catalog
A national survey of contemporary fiber art presented by
the Fiber Arts Network of Michigan
KC Studio
by Sherée Lutz
La Hora, daily newspaper, Quito-Ecuador, January 7
2015New Genre Arts Festival booklet, Tulsa OK, USA
2014Studio Visit Magazine, Volume 28
Water Tower Arts Festival 2014 Catalog
Sophia, Bulgaria
Make8elieve – Issue 6: Mountains
http://issuu.com/make8elieve/docs/m8-06, page 203
2013Columbus Dispatch, October 6
“Subtle imagery, tactile technique lift ‘Seis Latinas’
by Elizabeth Trapp
2012New York Artists Online, December 22
“A Unique Exhibition: “Meet My Uterus”
Catalog publication
“1st Contemporary Art Biennial in Buenos Aires, Argentina”
2011Catalog publication for gallery “Arte Actual”
Ecuador- 100 experimental audiovisual artists
Editor: María Belén Moncayo (aanme)
With support Prince Claus Fund for Culture & Development
(The Netherlands) and the Ministry of Heritage (Ecuador)
Columbus Dispatch, August 14
Exhibit Review/ Ohio Art League:
Disconnetced feeling unites Latinas by Amy Davis


Museu de Lanificios, Covilhã, Portugal
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Private Collections in the USA, Ecuador, Austria and Finland
I have been a member of the Ceres Gallery in NYC since 2010.
I am a member of the International Sculpture Center.


2021PETRA AiR, Kavala, Greece (residency during July and August)
2019 PINEA-Linea de Costa, Rota, Spain (residency during August)
2018 Museu de Lanificios, Covilhã, Portugal (residency during April)
2017 Institute for American Universities, Aix-en-Provence, France
(Resident Fellow from September – December)
2016CAMAC, Marnay-sur-Seine, France (residency during June)
2013Deutsche Börse Residency at Frankfurter Kunstverein
Frankfurt, Germany (residency during June and July)
2011 Acoss, Yerevan, Armenia (residency during March and April)
2007-2008 RONDO, Marienmuehle, Graz, Austria (residency from October 2007 to February 2008)
2007 Koli Ryynanen, Koli, Finland (residency during May and June)
2005Chretzeturm, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland