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“Untitled 193,” 41 by 37 inches. Photo courtesy of Derrick Velasquez

One Denver Artist’s Medium Will Surprise You

Derrick Velasquez elevates the most mundane of fabrics—vinyl!—into sophisticated sculptures.

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When artist Derrick Velasquez moved to Denver a decade ago and struggled to find work, he eked out a living selling handmade sketchbooks and journals. As he pre-cut strips of vinyl and draped them over a nail, readying them for use as closure straps, he was reminded of the architecture of the human form—“the way that skin lays over muscle…the way our bodies relax in a state of repose,” he says. Inspired, he began to formalize those random stacks, layering vinyl strips over wooden armatures—sometimes into spontaneous compositions, other times in predesigned patterns with calculated color changes. The resulting Untitled Series wall sculptures (find them at Denver’s Robischon Gallery, along with Velasquez’s collages, photography, and drawings) range in size from 24 by 24 inches to the 7-foot-tall “Untitled 88” on display at the Colorado Convention Center. “They are very physical, both visually and in actual weight,” Velasquez says of his creations, which explore themes of burden and accumulation. “But they also have a sense of ‘float’ to them”—thanks in part to feathered edges that evoke, fittingly, the pages of a book.

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