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Nela Garzón
of Houston
"Pre-Columbian Unlooted Bat
or Vampire fo
r the New World"
Kolanowski Studio

A multidisciplinary visual artist, Nela Garzón finds inspiration through studies of ancient beliefs, myths and customs—and those reflections in folk art—from around the globe. Her works raise awareness of the importance of ancestral traditions and promote pride within these cultural societies. Her sculpture, “Pre-Columbian Unlooted Bat or Vampire for the New World,” for True North 2024—made of chicken-wire, salvaged plastic and polyethyl-ene, paper mâché, PVA glue, primer and gesso—is based on the Mexican free-tailed bat. Adorned with pre-Columbian ornamentation, its wings hold patterns of the iconic monarch butterfly, and the nose and fangs are inspired by the vampire bat. Garzón explains that the pre-Columbian Tayrona tribe believed their shamans would transcend into fierce animals, and Mesoamerican mythology tells of an anthropomorphic bat-headed monster named Camazotz.


Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Garzón studied Literature at Los Andes University and holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Javeriana University, Bogotá. She received the Jones Artist Award from Houston Endowment in 2023 and has held residencies at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and PAC Art, Houston. Garzón’s installations have included The Lillie and Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden at MFAH, Discovery Green Houston, Institute of Hispanic Culture, Houston, Contemporary Art Museum, Bogotá, Post HTX, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Holocaust Museum Houston, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, and she has been selected as one of 40 prominent Houston artists to collaborate in the highly-anticipated Meow Wolf art experience—opening in Houston’s Fifth Ward in 2024.

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