Jorge Otero-Pailos is an American artist, preservationist and Columbia University professor best known for making monumental casts of historically charged buildings. He draws from his formal training in architecture and preservation to create artworks that address themes of memory, history and transition, inviting the viewer to consider monuments as powerful agents for cultural connection, questioning and understanding. He employs the material residues of our modernity - including airborne atmospheric dust, fragments of buildings, waterways, maps, or traces of sweat and body sounds to render their invisible meanings visible. Notably, he has used experimental preservation cleaning techniques designed to restore landmarked buildings, as well as reenactment methodologies, as part of his creative process. His site-specific series, The Ethics of Dust, is an ongoing, decade-long investigation resulting from cleaning dust and the residue of pollution from monuments such as Westminster Hall and the San Francisco U.S. Mint. His latest projects include saving the perimeter security fence of the ex U.S. Embassy in Oslo by turning it into sculptures and immersing visitors in a soundscape composed with New York State’s main water bodies at Lyndhurst Mansion historical pool building. Otero-Pailos is the recipient of the 2021-22 American Academy in Rome Residency in the visual arts. He studied architecture at Cornell University and earned a doctorate in architecture at M.I.T. He is Director and Professor of Historic Preservation at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture.
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