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To commemorate the opening of its newly renovated Michigan Avenue store, Tiffany & Co. commissioned Chicago-based artist Carlos Rolón/Dzine to create an original artwork. The mirrored piece, Inner Shining (Tiffany Yellow), was unveiled at EXPO Chicago last month and will travel to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). At the fair, Whitewall spoke with the artist—at the Pearl Lam booth where his work was on view—to discuss the piece, which will be auctioned off to benefit the MCA’s Teen Creative Agency program.
WHITEWALL: How did the commission from Tiffany & Co. come about?
CARLOS ROLÓN/DZINE: The director of Tiffany & Co. in Chicago came to my studio and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a project with them. I came back to them that I would do it under a few conditions—one was that it had to be a collaboration with a not for profit and that we would auction off the work and 100% of the proceeds would go to charity of my choosing. And then the second thing was that I wanted them to partner up with EXPO Chicago, because I felt that in order to benefit with the exposure and auction and awareness it needed to be at a venue like EXPO.
WW: How does Inner Shining (Tiffany Yellow) relate to your recent series?
CR/D: It’s a hybrid of my mirror mosaics and my fence pattern paintings. that I do and I just kind of that that could be a perfect relationship.
My mirror mosaics are an extension of the works that I did from security fence patterns. I went to Puerto Rico and I documented these wrought iron fence patterns that are built and meant to secure the homes. Some of them are in the dangerous neighborhoods in Puerto Rico, but are on the most historical and oldest roads on the island, before the Spaniards got there… So I went at night and I documented these homes, transferring the pattern of the iron fences on to mirror works. The contradiction to me was that they build these things to keep people out of their homes but they paint them in hues of pinks and blues and greens, which is completely welcoming. And, you know, you don’t want to feel like you are living behind prison bars.
If you go to places like Miami, Chicago, parts of Texas, southern California, where you have this influx of Latino communities, you see this wrought iron fence work. They are beautiful, and the people there do it as a sense of comfort and identity and it’s not about protection.
WW: Why did you want to transfer those patterns onto the material of mirror?
CR/D: I wanted to take something was decorative and transfer it on to a material where the view is either looking through or out and that’s why I chose mirror. It also references my parents’ use of mirror. A lot of my family’s use of mirror because a lot of the homes are small and built out of corrugated metal and cinder block. The use of mirror opens up the home, and gives it a sense of opulence and sense of privilege.