Best Local Artist - 2009
Gina Alvarez may be the consummate materialist, if a deep sensitivity to the textures, hues, transparency and weight of things is a qualifier. Though trained as a printmaker, Alvarez often produces everything but work on paper, ingeniously deploying ceramics and fabric to create almost blossoming sculptural objects and installations. But the trace of a print and the repetition of forms are dear to her imagistic vocabulary; the work suggests that nothing is made in the instant, but is, rather, a product of repetitive, nurtured acts and all the myriad reuses of words, behaviors and materials that our uneditable lives necessitate. This past year reflects a nearly exhaustive exhibition history for her — Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, Boots Contemporary Art Space, Maryville University, Craft Alliance (where she was also a resident artist), Open Lot and Pele Prints, as well as a residency in Washington, D.C., among others — but her presence in St. Louis is still a subtle one and possibly felt most profoundly in the educational realm. Few active printmakers in this city have not benefited from Alvarez's expert instruction, which is a feat in itself and yet another extension of her artwork's debt to trace-making and careful labor. Ultimately Alvarez is an artist whose work is sincere and total — an elegant testament to the too-often unsung powers of education and the dearly homemade.