San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

"Mundano Sagrado" on display at the National Gallery

From the print edition

Kindred spirits and longtime friends Jenny Kozlov and Michael Sims took a visionary trip to India together. Then they returned to Costa Rica, where the two artists have been residents for decades, inspired by a heightened awareness of how art and mystic wisdom can be found in everyday life.

Their current combined exhibition, “Mundano Sagrado,” at the National Gallery in San José, celebrates the sacredness of the
mundane, via two different but complementary mediums. Kozlov’s starting point is viewing “daily life as a spectacle for the soul.”

Her large, luminous photo collages on canvas begin with photos of people in India performing simple, daily rituals – bathing in the river, carrying jugs of water. She then combines elements of the photos with details of temple carvings and flowering vines, creating intricate visual patterns. Sims takes a more material approach, scavenging thrown-away objects and transforming them into “post-modern reliquaries.”

Hoping to promote tolerance among religions via art created from recycled artifacts, Sims lightens the message with touches of irreverence. Among the intriguing talismans she has skillfully fashioned out of “objects found and intervened with,” is an instantly recognizable Costa Rican icon: a discarded store sign, featuring the Bimbo doughboy, transformed into a visual Buddha mantra.

The exhibition occupies two rooms of the National Gallery.

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