December 6, 2019 – February 2, 2020
Located in the plaza of the Colorado Convention Center, this sculpture is the last of three artworks installed atop a custom concrete plinth, as part of a project called Temporary Monuments to Denver. The project intended to stoke a wider public conversation about the identity of our city and what purpose monuments serve from the perspective of artists living and working in Denver.
If once we ever were is a sculpture and temporary monument to our city by Denver-based artist Jaime Carrejo. The monument is a triumphal arch composed of chain-link fencing. Triumphal arches are iconic forms that can be found in diverse locations across the globe, from ancient Rome to the gateway of Yellowstone National Park. Just as these traditional arches are erected to commemorate significant persons or events, this sculpture was established to recognize immigrants and their contribution to our communities. Here, the fencing acts as a metaphor for boundaries—the delineation of private and public space, the division of geographical borders, and the separation of rights. The sculpture will undergo a transformation while it is on display. At a certain point, a blanket of artificial flowers handsewn by immigrants will cover the arch. Historically, the colorful cloak of flowers references The Carnation Gold Rush, a period of time when flower farming thrived in Colorado. Additionally, the flowers symbolize hope—the hope for unity and a better future for all immigrants.
Jaime Carrejo is a multi-discipline artist and his projects involve painting, sculpture, video, and immersive installations that use layered materials such as mirrors, rusting oxidation paint, and colorful vinyl. Carrejo considers the layering of materials and imagery pivotal in exploring the collision of multi-hybrid identities and alterity that form complicated relationships.He received his B.F.A from the University of Texas El Paso in 2001 and M.F.A. from the University of South Florida in 2007. His work is featured in periodicals, such as The New York Times, Art Forum, and Hyperallergic.
Temporary Monuments to Denver is a part of MONUMENTAL—a series of public, contemporary artworks and community engagement programs produced by Black Cube (a nomadic art museum) and the Denver Theatre District, funded in part by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the David and Laura Merage Foundation.
Photo Credit: Wes Magyar