ARCOmadrid2020 - The artist Hellen Ascoli wins XIII Premio illy SustainArt

The jury recognised this young Guatemalan artist who exhibiste her work for the first time in “Proyectos Ultravioleta” gallery in ARCOmadrid. Her work focuses on the handcraft textile traditions of Guatemala.

Hellen Ascoli
(36 years old) from Guatemala and living now in Wisconsin (USA), has been awarded with the illy SustainArt Prize, taken place this
afternoon in ARCOmadrid2020. Her work can be seen at “Proyectos Ultravioleta” gallery. The different creations are inspired by a real story which impacted the artist during the eruption of Fire Volcano in Guatemala.
This way she pays tribute to the role of women handcrafting textiles in Latin America. The series of her work are knitted by herself using woven fabric in waist loom, cotton, found fabric, handsewn cotton or on designed hooks.
Each piece responds to the names of poems like ‘Donde nos acuclillamos en amor’, ‘Mujeres piedra o dónde las piedras cobran vida’ or ‘A veces el cielo se abre’, this last one shown in the picture.

The independent jury, formed by Catalina Lozano (Bogotá 1979), independent curator living in México, and Octavio Zaya, curator, art critico and Director of Cuban Art Foundation, alongside Art Director of illycaffè, Carlo Bach, have recognised this “young talent from Guatemala” and awarded the prize of 15.000 euros (without acquiring the work), so she can continue with her artistic career.
Durind the prize giving ceremony, Catalina Lozano confirmed “Hellen Ascoli has thoroughly researched the textil traditions of Guatemala, building her own language that takes advantage of the derivative properties of the material with which it builds a body in which the divisions between art and crafts are diluted. In this way, a long and fruitful tradition of women weaving artists continues.”

Octavio Zaya has added that “Ascoli is situated, thus, not only in the tradition of Guatemalan Mayan weavers but also among those who, like Anni Albers or Sheila Hicks, from the modern avant-garde up to our contemporary times, have expanded the limits of the fabric towards resolutions, associations and open languages”. For the winner, this recognition means a commitment to continue in her work concept between a millennial tradition and contemporary art. “Working fabric is a slow process, so this award will let me continue in my work and will give me more time to research in this tradition. It is huge”, said an emocional Ascoli.

Stefan Benchoam, Director of Ultravioletas Projects confirmed it is an honour for us to win this Prize illy SustainArt and “a privilege knowing the shorlist”. Hellen is a “meticulous, hard working and dedicated” artist.

The illy SustainArt Prize presented in ARCOmadrid, with whom illy collaborates since 2005, was born with the aim of spreading the company's commitment towards sustainable growth in the international artistic community, offering opportunities for visibility and exchange within the market of artists from coffee producing countries. This award, started in 2007, recognising the work of Latin American artists born since 1970, from coffee producing countries like Brasil, Perú, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador, amongst other.

The shortlist of artists of illy SustainArt Award have been:

LAURA LIMA Luisa Strina 9A07
Mª JOSÉ ARJONA Rolf Art 9G13
LESLIE LOYOLA Leyendecker 9G13
BERNARDO ORTIZ Alarcón Criado 9C10
HELLEN ASCOLI Proyectos Ultravioleta 7A04
MAURO RESTIFFE Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel 7A08
OSÍAS YANOV Nora Fisch 9A14
LIV SCHULMAN Piedras 90P11

illy and contemporary art - 26 years of illy Art Collection
The commitment of illy with the contemporary art world has gone beyond boundaries and now they are partners with the main cultural centres and
museum in Spain, like Museo Reina Sofia, Fundación Thyssen-Bornemizsa, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Guggenheim Bilbao, MACBA, Barcelona Centre Design, FAD and they support cultural events nationwide like ARCOmadrid, ARCOLisboa, PhotoEspaña, Festival Eñe, feria de videoarte LOOP, Talking Galleries, Publica 18, amongst others.
In the last 26 years, illycaffè has focused on contemporary art and creativity to communicate the brand values. The company has contributed to develop a wide range of cultural events and exhibitions, like collaborations with main international artists. Since the first designed cup in 1992, the well known illy Art Collection counts with the stamp of more than 111 great artists, from Sandro Chia to Daniel Buren, James Rosenquist, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, David Byrne, Jannis Kounellis and Louise Bourgeois, amongst others. Josep Subirachs with Laietana in 1998 and Pedro Almodovar in 2009 have been the two Spanish artists to create an illy Art Collection.