Courtesy of Richard Termine

On Feb. 26, Anatar Marmol-Gagne — former artist-in-residence at Artspace New Haven — opened an immersive art exhibit called “Sueños” in a project room at Artspace. The installation, on view until March 20, includes a live performance of a puppet theater production.

The exhibition is centered around Marmol-Gagne’s personal life and deals with themes including immigration and family. The autobiographical story follows a little girl’s life as her parents divorce and her mother gets into a car accident with her new partner. After the sequence of events at the hospital, her dad decides to bring her to New York City. But she realizes that this visit is not meant to be only for the summer, and she will never go back to her home back in Venezuela. The little girl struggles to adjust to this new world, with a foreign language and an environment filled with unfamiliar people. Because she is an undocumented immigrant, she also has to hide from the police whenever they arrive at the school. She turns to imaginary worlds and friends, which she finds by painting and through her dolls, for refuge.

“This installation is very special to me because it’s very personal,” Marmol-Gagne said. “I’m bearing it all to the world, so it’s very scary but also incredibly empowering.”

“Sueños” is Marmol-Gagne’s final exhibition in her artist-in-residence program. Originally scheduled for May 2020, the exhibition was postponed due to COVID-19.

Marmol-Gagne began working on her exhibition proposal and installation three years ago, at the beginning of her residency. During the process, she reworked her script and puppet pieces several times. Eventually, she decided to include her journal pages in the exhibition.

According to Lisa Dent, artistic director of Artspace, Marmol-Gagne was an exceptional collaborator.

“I was really impressed with her professional life,” Dent said. “Anatar is really clear about what she wants to do, what she needs, and how to execute this.”

Along with the exhibition, Marmol-Gagne will conduct an accompanying puppet theater show at Artspace on March 13 with four performances. Even though tickets are free, attendees must register in advance due to limited capacity. The performance will include different forms of puppetry, such as shadow, on-screen and slow-motion. According to Marmol-Gagne, the performance will be filmed.

According to Katayoun Amir-Aslani, a fellow puppeteer who helped Marmol-Gagne in her process, the upcoming show is completely tied to the installation. Amir-Aslani described Marmol-Gagne’s choice to perform events from her personal life as “very brave.”

“It’s a very emotional piece, and it’s Anatar putting her heart out on the table for everyone to see, and see all the different parts of her life that shaped her to become the woman and the artist who she is now,” Amir-Aslani said.

Dent said that Marmol-Gagne’s work serves as a reminder of how culture and arts can heal people.

Despite in-person restrictions due to COVID-19, Dent expressed content with the interest “Sueños” has received so far.

“We were so busy last Saturday,” Dent said. “It was so good to see more people coming out, wearing masks safely, coming to see art again.”

 “Sueños” will remain at 50 Orange St. until March 20.

Gamze Kazakoglu | gamze.kazakoglu@yale.edu