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Crystal Bridges Acquires Gematria by Virginia Jaramillo

Crystal Bridges recently acquired Gematria by Virginia Jaramillo (1974). This work is part of her Curvilinear paintings which became acclaimed for their bold hues of hand-mixed acrylic paint and elegantly winding, clean lines that build a monochromatic statement. These minimal compositions are developed through a rigorous mathematical approach that includes first mapping the lines onto tracing paper, then layering them over the surface of a painting. 

Gematria is a Hebrew coding system used to assign numerical values to words, names, and phrases. Followers of Gematria believe that God embedded this codified language into the scriptures, and that meaning can be unearthed through the practice of Gematria numerology. The work displays two flowing lines, potentially symbolizing the inclinations of good and bad.

Jaramillo’s Curvilinear paintings became synonymous with progress as a collection of these works were displayed at the Menil Foundation’s 1971 De Luxe Show, one of the nation’s first racially integrated exhibitions. Her Curvilinear work was the only presentation by a female artist.

The museum hopes to put this work on view soon.

About the Artist

Virginia Jaramillo (1939) is a Mexican American painter often associated with the mid-century Black Arts movements of Los Angeles and New York. She is a 1961 graduate of Otis Art Institute and long-time New York resident. Jaramillo has exhibited widely, including Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, organized by the Tate Modern, which traveled to Crystal Bridges in 2018; We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-1985, organized by the Brooklyn Museum, and Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, organized by the Hammer Museum. Her work is in major collections, including Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Menil Collection, Houston; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC Awards include the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ford Foundation.


Written by Allison Glenn, associate curator, contemporary art.