First Language

According to the Bible, all of Genesis is the story of a spiritual being who created a world of matter in which he placed beings that, as Einstein observed in his Theory of Relativity, "can neither create nor destroy matter, but can only change it from one form to another (manipulate)." It is very clear that this "manipulation only" restriction is for humans; we are the only creature who would entertain "creating" matter, just like we are also the master manipulators of it. We are left to wonder to what purpose?  Why was it important that we be able to manipulate matter to the extent that we can?

At birth, when we separate from the sustainability of our mother's body and we take our first independent breath, we encounter the first material to manipulate: air. Typically we do not think of air as matter because of its invisibility to the human eye, but air is matter. Our lungs manipulate it, mechanically, albeit, and we continue with the process of living. We manipulate air some more, and with our vocal cords, we create a crying sound sending a message of needs that ensures survival. At this point we enter into a relationship with matter to secure our own existence. If we communicate well, we survive well. Therefore, the  manipulation of matter is our first expression of language.

The level of fluency of this First Language is in direct relationship to the availability of materials as well as the level of exposure to other speakers. This First language, with its diverse materials as alphabetical components, is our first and most basic relationship as well.

As communication gets more complex and moves from language being used for survival to language used to create relationships through which we share our internal world of feelings and ideas with other humans, matter is still present. From the handling of a tool to draw or write with, to manipulating air with vocal cords to produce speech, to playing a musical instrument, matter is always present as the primordial common denominator.  The possibility to learn to speak this First Language is in our DNA and the development  of all other languages rests on its shoulders.

This is precisely why we can manipulate matter beyond what any other creature on the planet can.
If the complex purpose of language is to cultivate relationships that bring fulfillment and joy through successful communication, then the manipulation of materials is the foundational roadmap to that fulfillment, therefore, being able to speak the First Language is fundamental and a main component of the human narrative.

The First Language Collection is not about technique or refined skills . It is an exhibit where materials are the protagonists and universal stories of perseverance, hope, love and awareness are revealed through the, thus far, lived life of one single parent, immigrant, brown, Cuban woman  from Washington Heights, N.Y.