Factory Works Gallery presents ‘Flesh Planetarium’ exhibit

Factory Works Gallery at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Avenue, will be addressing themes of globalization, consumption and representation, with “Ana Vizcarra Rankin: Flesh Planetarium.” The exhibition begins with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 7. The gallery will be on display through Sept. 27.

“Flesh Planetarium” is a compelling examination of themes like cultural waste and media representation, which the artist herself describes as, “An obsessive series that explores aspects of our human condition and our relationship to our surroundings and our planetary environment.”

Factory Works Gallery is honored to be the first gallery to exhibit this important body of work in its whole and to bring art to a community that is as touched by these issues as much as, if not more than, the urban centers it is usually occupying.

Ana Vizcarra Rankin was born outside Punta del Este, Uruguay and grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She currently lives and works in Philadelphia.

“My studio is in a big warehouse called Viking Mill, which is very similar to the Pajama Factory,” she said. “It’s about five blocks away from my house in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood called Fishtown.”

Vizcarra Rankin holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Temple University.

Vizcarra Rankin said she has identified as an artist since early childhood and has never doubted her path in spite of a challenging and winding journey. Her influences are many and diverse, so it’s difficult for her to choose one in particular.

“Maybe the circuitous route my life has taken is the defining factor in the art that I make, since most of it has to do with observing and mapping the world and universe around us in one way or another,” she said.

Vizcarra Rankin’s work is just as diverse as her influences. While she is very particular the process of creating each work, this occurs only after extensive experimentation.

“I work within a series until it either coalesces into a body of work or devolves into a few unique pieces,” she said. “My work includes astronomy oil paintings about false color ‘astrophotography,’ graphite and gesso drawings about subatomic particle dispersion, large world and star maps on unstretched cotton canvases, watercolors of the places where I travel, and collaged planets made of paper skin.”

Vizcarra Rankin’s series at Factory Works Gallery, “Flesh Planetarium,” is made up entirely of collaged catalogs and magazines which would have otherwise ended up recycled or in a landfill.

“Many were retrieved from my junk mail, starting with the Victoria Secret catalogues that would not stop arriving,” she said. “Others were from travel magazines found in hotel rooms – and later when friends found out about the project, from donated magazines such as a stash of Playboys from the ’80s found in someone’s late father’s bookcase.”

Science and travel are two of the main themes that appear across Vizcarra Rankin’s work, and the source of much of her inspiration.

“There is a sublime beauty in the Anthropocene, the interests of humanity as a species, and our cultural idiosyncrasies,” she said. “We are destroying and creating a world that is simultaneously enormously complex and infinitesimally relevant in the cosmos. I find inspiration and a certain magic in that juxtaposition.”

For Vizcarra Rankin, each body of work includes something that is her favorite.

“I love the physicality of working on the large maps,” she said. “When the flesh planets became that big, it was a much bigger challenge to work in the collage medium as opposed to paint – but the aesthetic fascinated me. Ultimately, each work that a collector buys for full price becomes my favorite at the time, because I know that it is loved.”