Work by Sabrina Haertig Gonzalez

Woman with shoulder length brown hair looking over her shoulder at the viewer.

Sabor a Carne (2021) 

Sabor a Carne is a sculpture series navigating the relationship of Latinx identity to poultry processing in the United States.

These works represent dedicated, intensive research exploring how the Latinx body is taxed through forced migration, dangerous labor, and the consumption of American chicken. At the intersection of exploitative policy and culture, one can observe a phenomenon of cannibalism. Chicken, or pollo, an inseparable staple to Latinx cuisine for most, is equally inseparable from the unethical modes by which it is farmed and processed in mass — which heavily exploit Latinx bodies.

The exploitation of migrant labor and systematic disenfranchisement of Latinx communities led many to work in dangerous employment such as meat processing, which compounded with the economic accessibility and cultural relevancy of chicken, positions them as producers, consumers, and the products themselves.

As one assumes these roles, what becomes of the "self"? What becomes of their relationship to the corporeal when violence is imparted and shared by the human and non-human? At what point does the taste of one's own labor spoil? "And when did you first taste yourself in the Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Family Pack? *Freshness guaranteed*."

This discourse is presented through the surreal manipulation of the contemporary, historical, domestic, industrial, and corporeal. From adopting pre-Columbian aesthetics to designing imagined future architectures, Sabor a Carne posits when meat became flesh.

Sabor a Carne was displayed in the Experimental Gallery in Olive Tjaden Hall, November 16–19, 2021, and was sponsored in part by the Cornell Council for the Arts and /Art. 

Our Latex and Steel Heritage (2021)

Through home-chef cyborg aesthetics and Taino Duho sculpture, Our Latex and Steel Heritage presents the collapsing of objects, tools, and beings within extractive economies. My research has recently turned to navigate the exploitative normalities of female corporeality, animality, and the abject. The welded steel armature embodies predator and prey as it resembles a creature on four legs collapsing into its own enlarged, gaping mouth. Silicone casts of a hand-carved imaginary skin are sewn and stretched over the steel while graphs of dislocated silicone finger-nipple colonies exude. With exposed internal components, the viewer's perception of the "thing" straddles between object and creature. The work is titled Our Latex and Steel Heritage as it posits a future where a body, long subjected to labor or other extractions, dramatically inherits the materiality of its circumstances.

To Unravel the Universe and Voyager 1 and 2 (2019)

To Unravel the Universe and Voyager 1 and 2 is a collection driven by my long love and interest in cosmology and astronomy. Aside from following NASA's projects and watching Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos as a child, simple stargazing was a spiritual routine. Light traveling millions of light-years away from a star that may no longer exist always reminds me of my place in the much bigger universe. I am a lucky little organism born with the ability to appreciate that the seemingly flat night sky is a soundlessly expanding beast of other worlds and life. And as long as I remember to look up from our "pale blue dot," the ills of my mind and heart can be remedied.

Stargazing is a meditation that inspires an appreciation of all things. It is where I see the convergence of art with science. Many people contest the necessity of NASA's missions, similar to how some criticize art. They believe that these are gratuitous activities that do not serve our basic need for food, shelter, and water. Yet they do satisfy the undeniable human trait of curiosity. Human curiosity spans from why we love others to why Saturn has rings. Michaelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel for four years in hopes of finding something for himself and others. The researchers of Voyager 1 and 2 were self-admittedly driven by the same goal when they built these machines with no guarantees of success. When we engage in art and science, methods of discovery, we learn not just of externalities, but of ourselves.

The importance of engagement is why the work of Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist, Voyager contributor, and former professor at Cornell University, is so important to me. Dedicating his whole life to the popularization of science to the general public, Sagan encouraged appreciation, curiosity, and discovery. Furthermore, he pioneered the addition of the Golden Record onto Voyager 1, holding a collection of sounds and images from Earth for extraterrestrial life. Carl Sagan is both an artist and a scientist. He is undoubtedly a considerable inspiration for not only my project, not only my choice of study, but how I live my life. Therefore I dedicate this work in his memory.

How it was made:

Sitting on my bedroom floor listening to many weeks of Voyager documentaries, I employed traditional Japanese Shibori binding to 22 yards of undyed fabric. Shibori is a resist-dye technique of binding and knotting practiced since the 3rd century. I chose Shibori to continue exploring Japanese printmaking techniques after my woodblock studio in the spring of 2019. With the initial idea of using a combination of hand woodblock printing and Shibori, I wanted to honor the beauty of Georges Lemaître's Big Bang Theory, where a singularity transforms into everything. But as the project continued, I realized that to create imagery by binding techniques alone would be a more honest use of the tradition and more faithful to the universe's creation story. With a single white spool of thread, I used binding traditions like Miura (assembling fabric into bunches smaller than a fingernail) and my inventions incorporating wooden dowels and Styrofoam. As the fabric length shortened, my bindings became more diverse and sparse to represent the expansion and transformation of matter through time.

After three months had passed, it was finally time to dye the fabric. And once I did, I fell in love with the uncertainty of the inside. So the project remained as a sculpture. Then curiosity got to me, and I created two fabric scrolls (humorously named Voyager 1 and 2) to get a clue inside the larger shibori project (named To Unravel the Universe). The scrolls, however, only contain the ending pattern closest to the current state of the universe, or more accurately, our solar system. For we only gathered so much from Voyager 1 and 2. And the rest of the universe, past and present, remains a mystery.

Going forward, I hope to expand and advance the project to be displayed in Cornell's Physical Science Building next to Carl Sagan's former office building.


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