Cristina Lei Rodriguez and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
New Work Project Grant
Struggling for Grandeur is a site specific sculpture designed for the Tea Room at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida. The artist spent over one year investigating the history of Vizcaya and was influenced by the aesthetic richness of this baroque mansion.
“The Tea Room is the gateway between inside and out. Beyond its stain glass windows the main garden has a repeating tea drop shaped topiary that represents mans struggle to conform nature into its vision. The sculpture is rendered in plastic, an artificial contemporary material, and is built up with layers of excessive ornamentation.” Cristina Lei Rodriguez
In Struggling for Grandeur, Cristina Lei Rodriguez reinterprets topiaries found in Vizcaya’s formal gardens to create an eight-foot-tall sculpture for the Tea Room. Using inexpensive materials such as plastic and artificial plants to achieve a sense of beauty and grandeur, Rodriguez paradoxically mirrors Vizcaya founder James Deering’s vision through a twenty-first-century lens, referencing the struggle between natural elements and human intervention and the dynamic process of growth and decay. Intentionally sculpted to imperfection, Struggling for Grandeur represents the challenge of maintaining an ideal, neoclassical image amid the harsh realities of a subtropical climate. Given the opportunity to situate the sculpture in any location on Vizcaya’s grounds, Rodriguez selected the Tea Room for its ornate décor and garden views. With highly decorative neoclassical murals and inlaid marble floors, the Tea Room echoes the sculpture’s intricate detail. Vizcaya’s stained glass doors offer views of the formal gardens that provide the source imagery for Rodriguez’s large sculpture and create a dialogue between interior and exterior spaces. Struggling for Grandeur is the latest in a series of works exploring the ongoing conflict between nature and human efforts to civilize and constrain. Commenting on the futility of imposing order on nature, Rodriguez covers mass-produced faux materials with oozing plastic. Struggling for Grandeur underscores the transitory nature of civilization’s triumphs and the potential for of its decline. (Source: Vizcaya Website)