Art in Embassies U.S. Department of State
U.S. Consulate Nuevo Laredo
Portal is a site-specific sculpture by American
artist Alma Allen
Art in Embassies asked celebrated American
sculptor, Alma Allen, to create a new work
that would resonate with the landscapes of
Laredo and Nuevo Laredo
Alma Allen composes biomorphic forms with
surfaces from materials sourced from his environment
I work in clay and wax in small scale
and then expand it
using computers but still working by hand
You could also do another…(speaking low)
Here at this study we make shells of and then
cast in bronze
the object that we make is the mold, so it
allows us to make one of a kind bronzes more
I have an idea but the idea never stays and
with clay and in small scale you can always
change very quickly like drawing, it lets
you sketch and work in three dimensions
which can’t be done with big things you have
to work it out as a small thing and then make
I spent 20 years making things with my hands
and it stills lets me make things with my
Which is nice since I don’t sit and click
on the computer I wouldn’t know how to do
Allen moved his home and studio from Joshua
Tree, California to Mexico City during the
process of creating Portal.
Mexico City is full of artists and craftspeople
of all kinds and you can make almost anything
you can imagine.
Whether you want to find leather worker or
bronze casting, it’s one of the largest cities
in the world and also one of the most creative.
The artwork also represents where they might
go this place that I see is a land with different
kinds of freedom.
and different kinds of opportunities.
the piece is now at the foundary where they
cut it apart and cast it into smaller sections
and then weld it together as the large scale
So much happens in this small space.
It’s probably will come to here and they have
so far done these sections.
It’s going to weigh about 1800 pounds, it’s
If it was solid it would weigh so much.
It is printed, then waxed, and will become
a section of this –
Allen’s undulating hoop frames a view from
one country into another.
It reflects the weight and magnitude of passage.
It doesn’t pop out looking right, there’s
a lot of stages that they do to make it look
Portal was cast in multiple parts from a 3D
printer mold, welded, and patinated to contrast
the desert landscape,
A lot of my work are made to symbolize psychological
states an moving between psychological states.
and I hoped that that would come across a
little bit with that piece.
There is the small version…for myself.
A cross-cultural collaboration, initiated
by Art in Embassies, the work was conceived
in the United States, fabricated in Mexico,
and installed at the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo
The piece is a little bit rough but it almost
has the character of a tree in the roughness
of the materials.
Maybe to bring it a little bit into nature
and away from the building to separate it
from sort of the slick and smoothness of the
The piece of public art also can hopefully
allow someone to think of something different
than their normal workday concerns and to
have a different way of thinking or a different
I think that’s important for all of us.