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Guadalupe Maravilla & the Sound of Healing

July 28, 2021

Visit our Awards page for this film’s honors and recognition.

Does healing have a soundtrack?

Sculptor, performer, and sound healer Guadalupe Maravilla combines his personal experiences as a formerly undocumented immigrant and cancer survivor with ancient and indigenous knowledge to create new rituals for healing. An impressionistic and kaleidoscopic look at Maravilla’s multifaceted practice and biography, the film follows the artist as prepares his solo exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, New York and conducts healing sound performances for his community.

From his Brooklyn studio, Maravilla recounts his personal journey as an unaccompanied minor fleeing the civil war in his native El Salvador and migrating through Central America to the United States. As an adult, Maravilla was diagnosed with colon cancer, which he considers a physical manifestation of the trauma he experienced as a child. During his radiation treatments, Maravilla was introduced to the sound bath, where participants are “bathed” in sound waves meant to encourage therapeutic processes. Struck by the healing potential of sound, Maravilla vowed to learn and share sound healing with others if he overcame cancer.

Back at Socrates Sculpture Park, Maravilla casts recycled aluminum into twisting coral-like forms to create the centerpiece of his exhibition. Titled Disease Throwers (#13, #14), these works are towering and totemic sculptures that are at once shrines and instruments, decorated with symbolic materials collected from the places Maravilla crossed as a child and activated through sound performance. Using gongs, singing bowls, conch shells, and other instruments, Maravilla hosts healing workshops for undocumented immigrants, cancer survivors, and those who have lost loved ones to cancer. “Having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering,” says Maravilla. “Making these elaborate Disease Throwers is not just about telling a story from my past, but it’s also about how this healing ritual can continue in the future, long after I’m gone.”

More information and credits


Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Directors: Rafael Salazar Moreno and Ava Wiland. Producers: Ava Wiland and Alexandra Lenore Ashworth. Editors: Rafael Salazar Moreno and Russell Yaffe. Cinematography: Rafael Salazar Moreno. Production Services: RAVA Films. Gaffer: Swelee Joseph. Sound: Pasquin Mariani and Ava Wiland. Aerial Photography: Mark DiConzo & KMDECO. Color Correction: Russell Yaffe. Sound Design & Mix: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Design & Graphics: Chips. Music: Lowercase Noises, Saint Mesa, and Young Collective. Artwork Courtesy: Guadalupe Maravilla and P·P·O·W, New York. Archival Media Courtesy: Willem van Bergen, J. Paul Getty Museum, Dennis Jarvis, Kent MacElwee, Frank Morrow, and Pond 5/mavelar. Thanks: Rigoberto Lara Guzmán, John Hatfield, Whitney Hu, Kent Johnson, danilo machado, Estrella Nova Martinez, Eric Matthews, Julia Metro, Terrence McCutchen, Sara Morgan, Mx Oops, Anna Reyes, Dan Roberts, Adan Palermo Rojas, Juan Carlos Ruiz, A.J Sanches, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Takashi Vishnu, Jess Wilcox, Sam Xŭ, Chris Yockey, Michelle W. Yun, and Chris Zirbes.

This film is possible thanks to Socrates Sculpture Park and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

New York Close Up is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Dawn and Chris Fleischner; and by individual contributors.

Digital exhibition of New York Close Up films is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Guadalupe Maravilla

Guadalupe Maravilla was born in 1976 in El Salvador and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and an MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. Maravilla creates intricately layered paintings, large-scale sculptures, and therapeutic performances that draw from his personal history and Central American ancestry. Often resembling mythic creatures or ornate reliquaries, Maravilla’s works examine issues of migration, disease, and generational trauma, while creating new rituals for care, healing, and regeneration.

“Healing can be very difficult and challenging. But having a community that has gone through similar experiences can be really empowering.”

Guadalupe Maravilla

Routines and Rituals