Sarah Rosalena (Wixárika) is a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary artist working between traditional handicraft traditions and emerging technologies in textile, beadwork, and clay. Throughout her career, Rosalena has built a reputation for breaking boundaries through her hybrid forms rooted in indigenous cosmologies, re-interpreted through digital tools and her hand. Each delves into the conceptual and material intricacies of entangled states of being, in which binaries and borders become unfixed and blurred, where woven landscapes continually converge, collapse, and co-invent each other. Born from multi-generations of women weavers, she works from her digital Jacquard loom to her mother’s bead loom. She mixes hand-dyed natural colors including cochineal and indigo with a synthetic, pixelated palette to produce her unbordered textiles, surrounded by her featured deconstructed fringe. Programming her 3D ceramic printer to imitate indigenous coil pot techniques, she fabricates "anti-vessels" that mimic the patterns of weaving and basketry. Working with image software, she creates beadwork–pixel per bead–whose surface mimics the computer screen.
Throughout her work, Rosalena renders world-building on a cosmological scale that transforms power structures held by conquest and discovery. Her experimental art practice suggests new possibilities and knowledge as we define ourselves to technology while looking at the past. For her series “Transposing of Form,” she consulted with researchers at NASA-JPL to print 3D ceramic sculptures with simulated clay from Mars. She replicated her mother’s bead loom in “CMB,” a wall-hung textile whose computer-generated beadwork depicts the origins of the cosmic microwave background–unseen radiation of the Big Bang. Her mid-career survey, “In All Directions,” is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art and examines the geo-political effects of climate change, dispossession, artificial intelligence, and extractive industries to imagine futures outside these logics.
She is Assistant Professor of Art at UC Santa Barbara in Computational Craft and Haptic Media. She was recently given the Creative Capital Award, the LACMA Art + Tech Lab Grant, the Artadia Award, the Steve Wilson Award from Leonardo, the International Society for Art, Sciences, and Technology, and the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Art Prize. She has had solo exhibitions with LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Clockshop, and Blum & Poe Gallery. Her work is in the permanent collection at LACMA.
I am shaped by the origins, character, and 3D assembly of weaving. I work with textile and its surface topography, to discuss the origins of female labor within craft, computing, and indigenous forms. My work breaks down technology with material interventions, creating new narratives for hybrid objects that function between human and nonhuman, ancient and future, handmade and autonomous, biological and technological, beyond power structures rooted in colonialism. They function as grounds for forging new power, allowing for new opportunities and epistemologies toward digital materials and matter, between Earth and Space.