Between Plants and Women |Erie Art Museum Pennsylvania | Mayo 23-24

Ana Balcazar

These works from the Erie Art Museum Permanent Collection focus particularly on portraits of women, their representation between plants, and botanical works. Among the drawings, engravings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures included in this exhibition are pieces I created during a months-long conversation with them, after various stages of selection.


These women are portrayed by various authors, at different stages of life, from girls to grandmothers, through adolescence, adulthood, and motherhood. Likewise, they are from different periods of history, from ancient Mexican civilization to the twenty-first century, with many from the 1940s, 1970s, and 1980s. Peculiar women, scenes of houses, legs, and bodies, are in the middle of plants, nature, rooms, walls, fabrics, or rugs, with some elements that represent the feminine: heels, skirts, dresses, nudes, patterns, design, fashion, red, and even perhaps the plants themselves. They are lying down, sitting, standing, posing, or moving; on chairs, furniture, or hammocks, in spaces filled with floral patterns, or in the middle of dreamlike or urban landscapes.


Symbolic, empowered, emblematic, graceful, funny, abstracted, distant, mysterious, or conflicted – the women in the Permanent Collection portray themselves as stoic figures. They do not go unnoticed or unknown. On the contrary, they are shown and exhibited. I could not find works that explored pleasure or joy: the most similar action to these was rest. However, there are questions, dreams, and demands of women who are looking for a space to live in their truth, showing us testimonies of internal worlds existing in the public view now. Somehow these works bring the intimacy of women into the public eye, offering the opportunity to establish a conversation with them. 

What is joy or pleasure for women? It is an old paradigm that women’s pleasure is sexualized. We find this historically in Western painting traditions and advertisements. In contrast, the women in the Erie Art Museum’s Permanent Collection are on guard, and at the same time they look back at you. What can we learn from them? This exhibit emphasizes the necessity to include different representations of women in contemporary society and encourages discussion about the meaning of joy and pleasure for women nowadays.

Versión en español Texto curatorial


Between Plants and women

Ana Balcázar


Estas obras de la Colección Permanente del Erie Art Museum se enfocan particularmente en los retratos de mujeres, su representación entre plantas, y obras botánicas. Entre los dibujos, grabados, pinturas, fotografías, y esculturas incluidas en esta exhibición hay piezas que he creado durante una conversación de meses sostenida con las obras elegidas, luego de varios procesos de selección. 


Estas mujeres son retratadas por diversos autores, en diferentes etapas de la vida, desde niñas hasta abuelas, pasando por la adolescencia, la adultez y la maternidad. Asimismo, son de diferentes periodos de la historia, desde una civilización antigua mexicana hasta el siglo veintiuno, con varias de los años cuarenta, setenta y ochenta. Mujeres peculiares, escenas de casas, piernas, cuerpos, en medio de plantas, naturaleza, habitaciones, paredes, telas o tapetes, con algunos elementos que representan lo femenino: tacones, faldas, vestidos, desnudos, patrones, diseño, moda, el rojo, y hasta quizás las propias plantas. Están acostadas, sentadas, de pie, posando o en movimiento, en sillas, muebles o hamacas, en espacios copados de patrones florales o en medio de un paisaje de ensueño o urbano.


Simbólicas, empoderadas, emblemáticas, graciosas, agraciadas, abstraídas, distantes, misteriosas, o conflictuadas – las mujeres de la Colección Permanente se muestran como figuras estoicas. No pasan desapercibidas o desconocidas. Por el contrario, se muestran y se exhiben. No pude hallar trabajos que explorarán la alegría o el placer: la acción más similar fue el reposo. Sin embargo, hay preguntas, sueños, y demandas de mujeres que buscan un espacio para vivir desde su verdad, mostrándonos testimonios de mundos internos existentes en un mundo público ahora. De alguna manera estas obras traen la intimidad de las mujeres a la vista del público, brindándonos la oportunidad de establecer una conversación con ellas.


¿Qué significa el placer o la alegría para las mujeres? Es un viejo paradigma que el placer femenino sea sexualizado. Podemos encontrar esto históricamente en la tradición de la pintura occidental y en la publicidad. Por el contrario, las mujeres de la Colección Permanente del Erie Art Museum están atentas y, al mismo tiempo, responden las miradas. ¿Qué podemos aprender de ellas? Esta exhibición enfatiza la necesidad de incluir diferentes representaciones de la mujer en la sociedad contemporánea y promueve discusiones acerca del significado de la alegría y el placer de la mujer en nuestros días.


JUNGLE POP | 1020 Collective Erie, PA | November 2022 - January 2023

This exhibition gathers works by Ana Balcazar Bartra made this summer in Tallinn, Estonia, but inspired by her most recent trip to the San Martin Region, in the Peruvian rainforest, where she participated in the mural festival Amazonarte Peru. Ana started this new series of paintings after making large-scale flowers on the walls of 12th and Ash Streets, in Erie, PA, in what turns out to be her first mural in the United States, where she presents the Peruvian jungle flowers unfolding in a book as if this would be a fantastic story.

Jungle Pop brings together North American pop art as well as Peruvian popular art, converging in a direct portrait of tropical plants, as they are part of the popular amazon culture in Peru, and a commodity of decoration and beauty for sale in the global market.  Nevertheless, these flowers and plants are naturally growing in tropical and paradisiac environments as Juanjui, nowadays they are taken to grow somewhere else as part of popular consumption as amazon culture is traveling too. The artist was surprised at how common it is to find these plants in the Northamerica and European supermarkets for mass sale. The tropical plants represent the wild, the beauty of nature, and at the same time they are a souvenir that exports exoticism.

With this new work the artist proposes new ways of botanical painting, exploring how to represent plants as sort of photographic portraits or silk screen advertising posters. For this new series of acrylic on canvas she works from a friend´s photos or pictures taken by herself, and from her own drawing notes made in situ. The artist intuitively chooses which characteristics best portray details that she wants to highlight of flowers and leaves, through solvent brush strokes with flat backgrounds sometimes and in some cases from the sketch, loose “unfinished” lines, to more elaborated gestures of light and shadow, giving three-dimensionality and movement.

Ana´s paintings materialize the beauty of botanicals in an unconventional way, in some cases, and in some others under clear visual art theories, but undeniably influenced by Peruvian popular culture, like Chicha, which is a diverse cultural manifestation characterized by neon colors on street poster advertisement for cumbia concerts. Ana makes decisions of color and texture bordering Fauvism and Chicha* aesthetics, with complementary contrasts and fluorescent colors. Even when she is trying to work on plants from a personal vision it's impossible to escape from her cultural heritage.

Gallery text 1020 Collective


Ana Balcazar Bartra | Amazon Baroque | September 1st -25th, Tallinn, 2022

Does the Amazon still represent the idea of being the last remnant of wild nature, freedom, and harmony on the planet? Amazon Baroque is a compendium of the most recent series of big-format botanical paintings and drawings from Ana´s journey through the rainforest in Peru two years after the pandemic. The series was inspired by her previous collection of works called the Jungle. This new series was born out of an attempt to unleash the mesmerizing power of nature through expressionist botanical compositions that allow us to reconnect with nature and ourselves.

Growing up in Lima, where the desert almost feels static, in the jungle Ana´s was fascinated by the abundant vegetation and rich diversity contrasting with the large open views of rivers and mountains. “Sometimes it was hard to see the sky, and other times it was hard to tell how far you could see”, she said. “¡But the jungle is not just what you see. It's much, much more than that. The jungle is full of sounds, smells, and vibrancy. Whenever I get out of the city, I see the plants dancing. They are not static sculptures. They move with light and air all day in loosely coordinated choreography.” She continued.

The jungle made her reflect on the boundaries as a profoundly human construct that was artificially imposed on us. When she looks around, she sees that everything around us is intimately connected, outside and inside us. Think about the air we share when we breathe. In the jungle, the air is heavy, humid, and full of heat. The flowers ooze with aromas reminding us that we don't exist in separation from one another. In the jungle, everything comes together as one, revealing our most intimate thoughts and emotions.

The thick air full of longing and desire, delicate and luminous, the temperature, the unstoppable growth of plants, the death and the new life, the cycle repeats itself. Over and over again. The whispering, subtle symphony of nature. Do you hear it? Nature is constantly changing, but in the Amazon, the cycles of life and death happen so fast that you can barely track them. A new life springs up where something dies, removing sadness and taking away sorrow.

Ana likes to draw and paint plants because it helps her to reconnect with her source. Her art visually interprets shapes, proportions, movements, and positions. She navigates her way with colours and lines, creating contrasts and textures, and filling them with life. Some of Ana´s paintings are more realistic, and others are abstract. This comes from her inner vision unveiling as she intuitively paints after deep observation. Her technique comes from expression to overlapping the layers of paint adding details to recreate the object of study.

This process helps Ana to convey the romantic landscape genre and current (1800's) and the abstract expressionism of the New York School (50's & 60's) that serves as the foundation for the new botanical expressionism. She puts the spectator in the scene and tries to connect them with nature's elemental energy.

Alesia Ivankova

Journalist and writer


Ana Balcazar Bartra | Botanicals  | April 22 through June 10, Erie PA., 2022.

Ana’s energy is vibrant in her person and her paintings. Each one gives you life! Instant joy. The bright, neon colors plus large scale take you into her world. You can feel the life of the jungle as the movement in each work is expressive, yet defined. She says her pieces come from her imagination, a faraway place of tranquility. They must exist on some plane. She finds the realism within the works, with various scales. 

Ana uses photographs which give each piece detailed realism in her expressive style. The pieces are vibrant! They glow! They’re captivating, inviting, and so warm. The hues are golden, bright. They are like a bright summer day. I am transported to the backyard, bugs buzzing, bright sunshine on my shoulders, sunlight dancing in my hair and a soft breeze moving the air. In the jungle pieces I can feel 

You arrive into the work like a dream, the sky bright blue overhead and sunlight pouring through. Ana’s exquisite use of color, layered through the leaves gives you a photosynthesis realism, it is life-giving. 

Ana paints many murals. She is multi-talented in the arts with experience using many methods of image making. She is traditionally an oil painter who has expanded to meet many surfaces. These are truly dreamscapes, otherworldly yet such a beautiful translation to our gorgeous Earth.

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to exhibit Ana’s prolific works, and offer them as prints so they can travel far and wide. A percentage of sales will be donated to preserve the jungle in Peru. 

We are thrilled to have Ana’s Botanicals here to celebrate the dawn of spring. Having her work in our space is truly life-giving, filled with the bright light of the sun bursting through each painting. It is complementary and fitting as the world outside is reawakening. 

Ana’s energy and works are vibrant, expressive, and infectious in her person and her paintings. Her use of bright, neon colors plus the large scale take you into her world. You can feel the life, the buzz, and the feeling of the jungle as the movement in each work is expressive, yet defined. She says her pieces come from her imagination, a faraway place of tranquility. They must exist on some plane. She finds the realism within the works, with various scales. The chili peppers carry the personality of her, her family, her home, and nature, as though we are actually microscopic bugs living on the stems watching the peppers grow. 

Sarah Moody

1020 Collective Curator


Venus: Deidad, Feminidad, Maternidad | Galería José Antonio, Lima, 2021.

Ana Balcazar tiene de inga y de mandinga y en los últimos años ha migrado del lienzo al muro esa diversidad que se manifiesta en su árbol genealógico, a través de la autorrepresentacion, a modo del carácter en el graffiti. La obra de Ana visibiliza una de las variedades de cuerpos, mentes y almas de la mujer peruana. Sus autorretratos muestran composiciones llenas de íntimos sentimientos expresados en simbologías orgánicas como flora y fauna del Perú, desentrañando historias personales y metáforas colectivas sobre la condición humana, así busca que todos quienes tengan acceso a su obra puedan identificarse.

Zelva Uno

Director de Amazonarte Perú


Ana Balcazar Bartra Paintings | 52 O Street Studios. Washington D.C., 2014.

Ana Balcázar Bartra, born 1984, is a young multidisciplinary artist from Lima, Peru whose work appropriates the tradition of realism, creating dreamlike atmospheres to reference her personal life experiences and journeys undertaken. In 2011, she received a BFA in painting from the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Lima, Peru. With previous exhibitions in Berlin, Germany; Quito, Ecuador; and Lima, Peru, BoomHammer will present the first showing of this young, talented artist’s work in the United States.


Ana Balcazar Bartra Paintings compile giant canvases of landscapes and bedscapes create dream-like sequences, bringing to mind issues of identity, feminism and the subconscious. Evoking references from Latin American women artists throughout history, such as Frida Kahlo and Ana Mendieta, the artist uses her own figure as subject, painting herself life-size and nude upon used flowered bed sheets. With the flower pattern revealed in a variety of translucencies, her figure hovers within mirrored frames over picturesque surreal landscapes of her home country. Salt flats unique to Peru and Bolivia are depicted in wide monochromatic brush strokes, referencing the mysticism of her homeland.


Lisa Marie Thalhammer

Artist and director of Boomhammer

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