Johana Moscoso

'Entre sistemas invisibles'

Entre sistemas invisibles presents a new body of textile work by Bogotá-born, Memphis-based artist and SCAD graduate Johana Moscoso (M.F.A., sculpture, 2009) that unravels hidden systems of oppression in our daily lives. In the works on view, Moscoso hand-stitches vibrant layers of laser-cut fabric together using the traditional Mola technique, a reverse appliqué method originated by Indigenous Latin American communities in which layers of different colored cloth are sewn together, nearly invisibly, and then worked upon or cut away to reveal a design. Embracing beliefs held by the Kunas people, that evil spirits settle in the unworked spaces of the layers, Moscoso saturates each brightly colored textile panel with intricate embroidery, obscuring seams and structures. She dances salsa over each work with her bare feet covered in glue, simultaneously preparing the surface of the fabric for a metallic foil transfer as a final embellishment. For Moscoso, the artistic process is a mapping practice, tracing the artist’s and her family’s migratory journeys using the ancestral knowledge of stitching, embroidering, and dancing so integral to her personal and cultural histories.

signature image for Johana Moscoso exhibition at MoA
Johana Moscoso, M.F.A., sculpture, 2009, "Entre sistemas invisibles," 2022, video still

The works on view were conceived during the early days of the pandemic, when protests were erupting both in Moscoso’s current home in the U.S. and in her home country of Colombia, albeit for different reasons. With reflective shield-like panels, the works are constructed to hang from the ceiling away from the wall, as if in acts of defiance. Their detailed surface designs devolve into elaborate compositional structures that nearly refuse legibility.

The graphic shapes and silhouettes of flowers likewise predominate this collection of works: the Cattleya Trianae orchid, the national flower of Colombia, and the purple passion flower, which originated in subtropical South America and is one of the state flowers of Tennessee. Fragile, with explicit resources needed to survive and thrive, these flowers have become an important metaphor for Moscoso, reflecting the fragility of both of her countries within systems of oppression. The history of the orchid, a valuable good traded between colonies and monarchies, also fuels Moscoso’s interest in presenting it as a symbol of systems of exploitation and exportation.

Yet, while they are deeply embedded in the context of political and social systems, Moscoso’s works loudly embrace hope with their bright color palette inspired by her myriad experiences in Colombia. With this new body of work, Moscoso enmeshes beauty and growth amid camouflaged structures, finding hope even amid oppression.

About the artist

Johana Moscoso (b. 1981, Bogotá, Colombia) received an M.F.A. in sculpture (2009) from SCAD and a B.F.A. from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá. Moscoso’s experiences as a Latine woman; as a Colombian who grew up during a time of political unrest and guerilla war, from the 1980s to the 2000s; and as an immigrant to the U.S., who has lived and worked in the country for the past 14 years, mold her practice as an artist. Moscoso explores gender roles, identity, and migration through movement and labor across various mediums, conjuring the feminine presence and celebrating cross-cultural experience in dynamic, large-scale installations that include textiles, sculpture, and performances that activate the physical environments. Moscoso has presented solo exhibitions throughout the Midwest and in Atlanta, Boston, and Bogotá. She participated in a residency at the Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisc., and the BOLT residency in Chicago, among others. She is the recipient of the Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago. Moscoso currently lives and works in Memphis, Tenn.

Programs and events


Entre sistemas invisibles is organized by SCAD Museum of Art assistant curator Brittany Richmond.


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