San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Hanging Music’ intrigues

From the print edition

A guitar with breasts. A silk shirt playing the flute. A sweater cradling a miniature xylophone. 

At the opening of this whimsical exhibition by Costa Rican artist Erika Stanley, onlookers were nodding at the creativity, then getting closer to squint at the details.

“There’s so much work in each piece, each seems to tell a story,” said visitor Ana Lourdes Acuña. “The more you look, the more you see.”

Called “Hanging Music,” the exhibition includes nearly two dozen of Stanley’s mixed media pieces, on display at the Omar Dengo Foundation. The bohemian, richly colored sculptures entail Stanley’s own shirts and other clothing items positioned to seem as though they are playing instruments. Nearly all the instruments, such as a violin, guitar, symbols and flutes can be removed from their garments and played.

“Each piece entails womanly movement,” Acuña said.

In 1997, Stanley studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in the University of Costa Rica. Her work is seen in expositions in Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, the United States and Germany. She lives in the Netherlands with her husband and 5-year-old daughter, giving her the opportunity to explore European art.

Before she pursued a career in art, Stanley’s sculptures filled her parent’s home. Although she did not travel to Costa Rica for the opening, her father shared a few words on opening night.

“Even before she could read, Erika loved to scan the pages from a book we had in the house about the Belgian painter Magritte,” Rodolfo Stanley said. “Today she’s still influenced by his work.”

Though he’s also a painter, Rodolfo Stanley disagrees with the idea that his daughter follows in his footsteps. “My studio was away from the house, and she only saw my pieces when they were finished and hanging on the wall,” he said. “Her work is so different in its shape, theme and color scheme. She’s her own artist.”
 Gallery visitor Acuña completes her circumvention of the gallery and returns to where she started. 

“There’s so much to see, so I’m going to have to see them all again,” she said.

Erika Stanley’s “Hanging Music” showing Aug. 8-Sept. 18 in the Omar Dengo Foundation, 100 meters south of the Sagrado Corazón Church in San José. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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