In 1989, artist and professor Beatriz Cortez (CA) immigrated to the United States from El Salvador, a move that greatly influenced her work and scholarship. In her architectural works, Cortez explores concepts of simultaneity—the relationship between two events happening at the same time—and how this is reflected in migration and impacted by memory and our understanding of the future.
The Autotopographers will present Cortez’s sculpture Lakota Porch: A Time Traveler, a large-scale porch made entirely of industrial steel. The work was inspired by Cortez’s research into Dan Montelongo, an Apache Mescalero master stone builder who constructed homes known as “river-rock houses” across the northeastern Los Angeles between 1923–1925. Cortez reflects on Montelongo’s architectural style, which she calls “craftsman vernacular,” as an example of simultaneity, in which he blended many vernacular building styles into one structure. By molding industrial sheet metal into rock shapes, Cortez references the anti-industrialization philosophy of the craftsman movement, which was committed to handcraftsmanship. Using metal allows Cortez to speculate on a future where traditional building techniques are no longer used, and only industrial materials are available. As a result, The Lakota Porch: A Time Traveler moves across space and time to construct a place that honors cultural diversity, local traditions, and a sense of place.