The sky is Higher Here

Curated by Leila Seyedzadeh

Works by Hedwig Brouckaert, Simone Couto, Edi Dai, Saba Farhoudnia, Victoria Martinez, and Ingrid Tremblay

On view: February 19– March 27, 2022

Transmitter Gallery

1329 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237


Artist’s Testimonial

Simone Couto

Cloud in Trousers, 2022

Mixed media on denim donated by NYC immigrants

64 x 56 inches

My mother told me I was a late walker, and my oldest son didn't take his first steps until a year and four months later when his brother was born. But eventually, we all learn from our falls, scrapes, and recoveries, taking one step at a time as we immigrants move further away, and we recognize each other by what we leave behind—places, people, affections, and things, by our suitcases. We all share a sense of physical and emotional displacement and a fascination with the unexplored. The sky is higher for us, and we seek shelter from the wind, similar to the resilient, naturalized flora I've depicted on Denim—large mullein, Queen Anne lace, clover, and a bull's-eye daisy. As I read in a 1982 New York Times article, many of these immigrants entered America without visas or passports and without swearing an oath of allegiance. These plant travelers have established themselves by chance, sheer force, and sheer will.

A few years back, I traversed the city collecting letters from contemporary immigrants and trading for a single pair of jeans - an American icon standing for struggles, hard work, comfort, and support. While studying the mesh of this Denim, I realized that woven through various fabrics is a universal experience connecting everyone from ancient civilizations to settlers and translocation to the present. The story of Indigo, an essential dye in the world, speaks of minorities, power struggles, colonialism, and the genocidal consequences it brought to Indigenous peoples. Our intermittent walking allows us to think with our body while we learn to belong, and the search for blue is more than a dream but a visceral memory of what we strive to be remembered for. Entangled in these threads of Denim is the collective experience of many immigrant journeys, precisely what shapes us: striving for humanity and reaching our true potential. At the same time, the infinite blue above us exists. The process of remembering is represented in a quilt, a painting, or with thread. It constitutes a shelter of emotions, understanding, and empathy, where we all find ourselves walking in as strangers but living in unity.

Last but certainly not least, A Day Has 12 Coats pays tribute to the women at the heart of it all; the European and Latin American immigrants of the two Great Wars, who endured laborious hands-on jobs. With it, I asked how we turn perception into knowledge and use that knowledge to create art outside of ourselves. I thought of the understanding of the workplace tools used by those immigrants, of memory, replication, and the reiteration of work in menial tasks. An everyday photograph of an NYC garment shop run together with an early Singer Sewing Machine, run through the printer until the colors were bled and smudged until I was to pick up my needle and stitch the remembrance of their legacy.