Paz de La Calzada Rolls Out the Carpet

Victoria Hunt and Ben Lazar

Staff Writers


Wondering what the carpet is in Kalmanovitz Hall? The Foghorn talked with the artist behind the meticulous mats, Paz de la Calzada. Her two site-specific installations, “Portale” and “The Nomadic Labyrinth,” opened on Wednesday, March 7 to a small crowd of art students in the Giraulo Atrium in the Kalmanovitz lobby and rooftop sculpture terrace of Kalmanovitz, respectively. The pieces are intricately patterned carpeting that stem from Northern Italy and the Bay Area’s Ohlone tribe. Both will be on display in Kalmanovitz until March 25.


You recently installed a new piece in the entrance of Kalmanovitz Hall. Can you tell us about it?

PC: “Portale” is a site-specific project. This means it responds not only to the space – in this case, the stone portal – but to the historical, cultural and social aspects. Portale playfully engages with the stone portal and comments on the dynamics between culture and power. It features a pattern from a basilica of northern Italy, where the stone portal come from, and the Native American pattern painted by the Ohlone tribe on the ceiling of the Basilica Mission Dolores.


Are we allowed to walk on it?

PC: Absolutely. The whole point is to invite the public to cross the portal and to experience  transformation.


How long have you been creating art with carpet?

PC: I started in 2013 with “The Nomadic Labyrinth.” I collected carpets from hotels and casinos and recycled them into a fully walkable labyrinth. The project was funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and presented by the Manresa Gallery [inside the St. Ignatius church] at USF. Carpet is a material from our daily life use. I’m interested in how carpets relate to our home or idea of comfort. I’m also fascinated by the popular culture of patterns and how these carpets from fancy and superficial places can be transformed into something else – in this case, an urban meditation tool.


This is your second piece at USF. Why did you choose our university to feature your art?

PC: When I was building The Nomadic Labyrinth, I was looking for a place that had lots of foot traffic and that was linked to a spiritual place. USF and the Manresa Gallery seemed to me a perfect place, with a combination of academic knowledge and a large, non-traditional spiritual community. Since labyrinths were found in Christian churches in medieval times, I thought that having the Nomadic Labyrinth linked with Saint Ignatius Church made the whole experience more powerful.


A few months ago I was invited to bring the Nomadic Labyrinth back to USF, this time with the Thacher Gallery. After talking about it they invited me to create a new piece for the Atrium of the Kalmanovitz Hall. An art piece that would direct people to go through the stone portal and go upstairs to the third floor to walk the labyrinth.


What do you hope students gain or learn from your artwork?

PC: I hope to create a sense of passage. I’m interested in working in places of transit to invite the public to change the perception they have of the space. To learn and question the dynamics of culture, hierarchy and power.


Featured Photo: Hursh Karkhanis/Foghorn


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