The Queue: Einar and Jamex de la Torre

The Queue: Einar and Jamex de la Torre

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

Published on Monday, October 17, 2022.
Blog post cover graphic for The Queue featuring Einar and Jamex de la Torre
cover of the fall 2022 issue of American Craft magazine

Welcome to the Gather series of The Queue.
A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in American Craft. Our Fall 2022 issue is centered on the theme "Gather." In The Queue, we invite the inspiring individuals featured in this issue to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.

The de la Torre Brothers sculpt the surreal in glass.
Brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre were born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in Mexico and California. Early travels throughout Mexico gave them an appreciation of craft, but Jamex’s high school job as a glassblower introduced the brothers to the medium with which they are now most associated. The demands of glassblowing led them to collaborate, which they still do today. Jamex explains, “Either Einar or I might start a piece to which one or both of us might add something or another—colors, shapes, objects—until the work is finished.” Their first nationally touring exhibition, Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective, is currently on view at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in Riverside, California. Jaimianne Jacobin wrote about The Cheech in “The Future of Craft Collecting” in the Fall 2022 issue of American Craft.

delatorrebrothers.art | @delatorrebros

Portrait of brothers Einar and Jamex de la TorreSurrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre

TOP: Einar and Jamex de la Torre. Photo by Josue Castro. BOTTOM: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Critical Mass, 2002, blown-glass, mixed-media wall installation, 84 x 192 x 10 in. Photo courtesy of the Cheech Marin Collection and Riverside Art Museum.

How would you describe your work or your practice in 50 words or less?

Jamex: We’re primarily mixed-media artists. Right now, our main mediums are blown glass and lenticular printing. We see our process as like the layers of an onion. There are the layers of the collaboration plus the layers of multiple materials that come together with the layers of our personal history of migrating to the United States and living in two countries.

Einar: We have a three-pronged process. We do studio art (like a pedestal, wall, or freestanding piece), which is what you place in galleries. We do museum installation, which is creating an environment that we make with wallpaper—you are inside of the artwork as opposed to seeing it on display. Lastly, we do public art, which is a different realm of engagement. It puts our art in front of people in unexpected places.

Surrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre
Surrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre

LEFT: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, El Imortal, 2010, blown-glass, mixed-media art with car rim, 41 x 22 x 16 in. Photo courtesy of Danny and Aranzasue Damian. RIGHT: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, ¡2020!, 2020, mixed-media, blown-glass sculpture with resin casting, 33 x 22 x 14 in. Photo courtesy of Koplin Del Rio Gallery.

The lenticular mural installed at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of Riverside Art Museum in California depicts Cōātlīcue, the Aztec earth goddess, changing into a Transformer-like robot. This, you say, is an “empowering image of the future scientists coming up with creative ways to deal with the rising global temperatures.” Can you tell us about other artists you admire whose work touches upon similar themes?

Einar: That piece and the way we made it can be described as somewhat surreal, whether in terms of the Dada movement with artists like Salvador Dalí or like Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We relate very much to the way surrealism speaks to the complexities of everyday life, and at the same time, we relate to the bizarre juxtaposition of images that we see, which sometimes in our contemporary life doesn't make sense to us. You know, just crossing the border is surreal business in our changing world when it comes to the differences in cultures.

Jamex: On the subject of facing the doom of global warming or a dystopian world, there are many artists we admire because we have faced what seemed like the end of the world as humanity many times. We have admired German expressionists over the years because they were showing the human condition at its rawest form at the time. We want to express the anxiety of the human condition in the circumstances under which we're living nowadays.

Surrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre

Einar and Jamex de la Torre, La Belle Epoch, 2002, kinetic mixed-media, blown-glass installation, 120 x 144 x 36 in. Photo courtesy of Einar and Jamex de la Torre and Koplin Del Rio Gallery.

How did you start working with glass, and why glass?

Jamex: I took a job doing glass lampworking in 1977 when I was still in high school. While it initially was just a job to me, at some point, my boss started teaching me how to craft glass.

Einar: We fell into glass, but we were very specific about what we wanted out of it and that it had to do with our self-expression. It was not ever about the virtuosity of the material, meaning that we don't see ourselves as married to it. Our interests are very specifically sculpture and self-expression, as in an expressionistic way of doing things.

Jamex: Today, what we're more about than anything else is mixed media. Generally speaking, the most interesting stuff coming out at major international art biennials now is either mixed media or multimedia artwork.

Surrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre
Surrealist glass artwork by Einar and Jamex de la Torre

Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Feminencia (as viewed from two different angles), 2020, archival lenticular print with resin castings and waterjet-cut aluminum frame, 89 x 65 x 4 in. Photos courtesy of Koplin Del Rio Gallery.

Which artists, craft exhibitions, and projects do you think the world should know about?

Einar: We are proud that our work is part of a group exhibition at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, called This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World. This exhibition takes a broader look at craft than what has been seen in the past and conveys how the dialogue needs to get broader as more identities are being let in and incorporated.

Jamex: Another exhibition that we like to point out is What Are You Looking At? An Eccentric Chorus of Artists Working in Glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. It is on view through January 2023 and is guest-curated by two close friends of ours, Benjamin Cobb, Hot Shop director at the Museum of Glass, and Benjamin Wright, artistic director at Pilchuck Glass School. It’s about the limits of what glass is in mixed-media and multimedia works.

If you could have any craft artist’s work in your home or studio besides your own, whose would it be and why?

Einar: There are many, many glass artists who I really admire, so it’s hard to choose. I would love to have work by Megan Stelljes from Seattle. Working in glass, she explores playful themes of sexuality and sensuality. Also, there are numerous folk artists in Mexico who work in clay and papier-mâché, and I would love to work with them.

Jamex: There are countless, but off the top of my head, I’d say I admire John “Sleepy” Moran. James Labold is doing amazing cast glass work out of Philadelphia.

Einar: We regularly collaborate with the Hot Shop Team at the Museum of Glass, which we feel is the best glassblowing group in the country. We’ve made some of our most spectacular glass pieces with this collaborative team: Sarah Gilbert, Gabe Feenan, Benjamin Cobb, and Kristin Elliot. We also admire Benjamin Wright, Therman Statom, Judith Schaechter, and Martin Janecký, and we feel a special affinity to Erwin Eisch!

stack of four issues of american craft with the fall 2022 issue on top

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