Going High

On behalf of the collaboration between Young Writers Program, Pajaro Valley Arts and Museo Eduardo Carrillo, we are proud to share this letter of thanks from Michelle and Barack Obama.

They received the educational materials based on Latinx Art which grew from partnership.

The two full color books “The Art of Who I Am” and “Hablamos Juntos: together we speak” exemplify how cross pollination between Latinx art and the significant writing mentor ship provided through the YWP can bring out the deepest feelings and profound reflections in fine writing by our community teens.

We continue. Together. 

Yes, We Can.


Invisible Music: Eduardo Carrillo

Memories of the Artist I Knew
Article by Christina Waters in Catamaran Literary Magazine

Even now, almost twenty years after his death, it’s difficult to separate the man from his work. Both burned brightly, bursting with energy. Now only the paintings remain.

I was drawn to Eduardo Carrillo even before I realized that he was an extraordinary painter. Warm and genuinely comfortable in his skin, Ed personified the laid-back spirit of this coastal stretch of California. Although his ances – tral roots were in Baja, he was quite willing to pepper his unpretentious persona with plenty of Los Angeles hipness when the occasion required

Read the full article»

Museo Wins $10,000 Rydell Award Grant from Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County

Museo Eduardo Carrillo has received a grant of $10,000 from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County to fund the First Watsonville Art Walk from September 3- November 3,  according to Museo’s Executive Director, Betsy Andersen.


The Art Walk will feature the “Hablamos Juntos: together we speak/ Contemporary Latino Broadsides” series. Artists will be attending. It is a major educational project of Museo Eduardo Carrillo and Pajaro Valley Arts. The banners show Latino art in an array of mediums from artist throughout California. The series will be expanding. Each banner has text in English and Spanish, written by teens in the Young Writers Program.

Reception begins at Pajaro Valley Arts, 37 Sudden St, Watsonville at 6PM on September 16.

The grant from the Foundation gives us the resources to create a self guided walking tour and map in which Latino art is the main feature. This free event allows unlimited access to the art. We’re ecstatic about the support and vote of confidence from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and fiscal sponsorship through Arts Council Santa Cruz County!

Immigration: Borders, Boundaries, Beginnings

Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius

The art work of Sara Friedlander and Jane Gregorius addresses the current and historic issues of migration and displacement.  What does it mean to belong, and who controls who stays?

Each artist brings their wise and thoughtful hand to their art.  Read what they have to say.

Birds of im/Migration by Sara Friedlander

I have created these visual narratives to honor the courageous women, who left their homeland and their families, often under great duress and traveled to America to start a new life. Most of them spoke no English; and holding steadfast to their hopes for a brighter future, faced daunting challenges in order to establish themselves in this new world.

I began with photographs of my maternal grandmother, born Masha Bornstein, who in 1908 at the age of 15 left her family behind in Petrikov, Belarus (background image) and traveled alone in steerage to Boston. She soon made her way to Providence, Rhode Island to begin anew. She was an accomplished seamstress who designed and made all the clothes in the photographs you see of her. Warmth and integrity emanate from her face. I’m told that she worked in and then ran a small sewing shop. And after marrying, she and my grandfather sent for her mother and three siblings to join them. She died before I was two and by creating this piece, I feel more connected to her life and my own history.

At this critical time, immigration is seen as a national and global threat throughout the world. These portraits can help us remember and reflect deeply on the reality that most Americans, most of us, are relatively recent descendants of or immigrants ourselves.



Artist statement by Jane Gregorius

Even the noun “immigration” has started to fill me with sadness. It used to stand for adventure, for courage, for the will to survive, the right to a choice. With politicians trying to capitalize on xenophobia, the word has become a two-part description as in “illegal-immigrant,” and it is often said that “that person is illegal.” Really, an illegal person?

I can’t imagine the poverty and squalor, the fear, the political terrors, the life of the persecuted that force populations to escape from the mother country. One of my pieces visually describes the wall and the border patrol who keep an eye on it, another describes the home that was left behind and another the homeless and anonymous wanderer without roots and home land.

Hablamos Juntos: Slow Art Day 2016

Join Museo on Slow Art Day, April 9, 2016 to view the new series titled Hablamos Juntos. Click the image below to view the exhibit , then return here to read what other slow lookers have written and add your comments.

Note: (if you are on a mobile device, you may be prompted to download the exhibbit app)




Click the images to view full size. Add your responses below in the comments

Broadside6JuanFuentes-1-copyArtist: Juan Fuentes

“My muscles ache, too. His labor goes unnoticed by many, but not by me.”

—Yesenia Matias Chavez, UCSC Student and Writing Project Assistant

ivan-rubio-1-copyArtist: Ivan Rubio

“The picture I picked out reminds me of my Uncle Georgie. My Uncle Georgie is a buff, ‘tall ass foo’ and he’s all tatted up from his neck down to his legs.”

—Chris Rosete, Young Writers Program

judithe-1Artist: Judithe Hernandez

“Maria’s childhood was difficult. She grew up in a neighborhood where guns were like fireworks at night. Houses were falling apart, with broken windows. It was a very lonely neighborhood.”

—Alexis Rangel, Young Writers Program

xavierjiramontes, our gangArtist: Xavier Jiramontes

“When my family immigrated to Watsonville from Michoacán, Mexico, they bought a house in a white neighborhood. [Their neighbors] would drive by in their cars and yell out all kinds of racist names like ‘beaner,’ ‘wetback,’ ‘greasers,’ and ‘aliens.’ But despite all that my family stayed on the block.”

—Anthony Garcia, Young Writers Program

CarmenPortal-1-copyArtist: Carmen Leon

“The title of this artwork is called “The Portal.” This symbolizes the transformation I made from being a kid to the high school teenager I am today.”

—L.R., Young Writers Program

Broadside5JesusMelanie-1-copyArtist: Jesus Barraza & Melanie Cervantes

“I’m Mexican and I’m proud of that—I wouldn’t change it even if I could.”

—Jose Antonio Ortiz, Young Writers Program

hector-mendoza-1-copyArtist: Hector Mendoza

“The barb wires in this picture made me think of a lot of difficult times I’m still going through.”

—Elizabeth Albor, Young Writers Program

At Your Door : The Art of Myra Eastman

“This is my story,” says Myra Eastman in her studio overlooking a garden of flowering trees in a neighborhood where a small California beach town sifts out into quiet-seeming streets of old farmhouses. Her back is to the garden; she’s facing a formidable collection of artworks representing years of prodigious output in which the color and shape of her world is indeed often brilliantly-hued, but the content mostly horrifying.

Read More of the essay by Maureen Davidson

Raised in an affluent Los Angeles suburb in circumstances that seemed protected from any hint of conflict or want, Eastman spent decades unraveling that comfortable bourgeois tapestry over an art life of vigorous enquiry, delving deep into issues she “can’t stop thinking about.” Such issues have driven the slender, gracious, bespectacled former schoolteacher to create with almost obsessive speed and relentlessness a museum’s worth of works so breathlessly immediate they can be cartoonish or chaotic, dripping with gesture, spilling over with ironically cheerful color that fails to overshadow the grist of human inhumanity that is consistently the content.

In works ignited by the successive wars in the Middle East, Eastman transubstantiated war photojournalism into her own stream of consciousness. Working quickly, as if unwilling to dwell on singular incidents, she created score after score of paintings mostly in black gouache on paper, reframing headline news, tightly composing the humans within the action. In such work as “Soldier and Woman” the image is dynamically bisected by a progression of steps that forms a barrier as well as a frame for the soldier’s torso as he reclines with machine gun above a woman with bowed head, below. In “Baghdad Funeral” a procession praying for peace forms a jagged horizon between coffin and mosque. “Woman Behind Wire” stares defiantly from behind a pattern of barbs which almost tear at the surface. The lines carry an urgency and intensity that a more belabored work would not.

The violent acts of human upon human moved from photojournalism into the artist’s life when her sister was gruesomely murdered in 2012 (?). Eastman moved from stultifying sadness into the studio when the trial of her sister’s accused murderer began. “And So the Trial Begins” became the first of 25 small paintings that imagined with cartoonish simplicity the horror of the murder and the events that led to it. The nightmarish invasion, fear, betrayal, brutality of the act are simplified in flat bright, graphic colors, perhaps better to convey or to understand the incomprehensible.

Like the war series, moments are frozen in terrifying tableau. On jewel-colored backdrops, figures often float in relation only to each other as if “real” life is suspended: there is no architecture that can hold a murder. “Ice Pick” crystallizes the horror like a retablo of a Christian martyr—the victim resigned, while “Wall Safe” lays the victim flat as a shadow: the simplified space leads the eyes to a figure escaping through a closing door.

Another opened as Eastman wondered on canvas about the roots of this murder, in which the victim’s daughter was involved. She turned to those posh hills of her childhood Los Angeles in the Mulholland Drive series. Using pop colors and graphic sensibilities of the Sixties, she teases out the possessiveness of possessions, the pose of privilege and its consequence of alienation while a city grid dominates the disconnected humans within.

“Everyday I am bombarded with an overload of human misery and unspeakable horror that pierce my heart with sadness. I can only make sense of it all if I tear off a tiny piece and create works of art that speak to our common humanity and dignity,” Eastman comments.

—Maureen Davidson


Text © Maureen Davidson, all rights reserved.
Artwork © Myra Eastman, all rights reserved.

2015 Carrillo Scholarship Recipients

The Art Department faculty was pleased to select 21 students as the 2015 Eduardo Carrillo Scholarship recipients. Students were selected from a large pool of junior and senior Art majors in good academic standing, who are receiving financial aid, and working in the areas of painting, drawing, and sculpture. Each applicant submitted work samples, a project proposal, research agenda and an itemized budget for consideration. Their projects ranged from a series of six paintings, related to the cruelty and brutality currently proliferating under the regimes of the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to an investigation of LED light sculpture, to relief and intaglio printmaking techniques that explore social issues of race, class and gender. There is an incredible breadth and depth of talent and interests with this year’s cohort.

The 2015 Carrillo Scholarship recipients demonstrated a proficiency in a range of techniques and media within their respective disciplines. They were clearly able to imagine, create and resolve their work as indicated in the samples they provided and in the project proposals they submitted. Furthermore, these students communicated a strong familiarity to analyze forms of contemporary art with a clear understanding of historical precedents. On behalf of the entire faculty and staff of UC Santa Cruz’s Art Department, I want to congratulate the 2015 Eduardo Carrillo Scholarship winners and wish them the best of luck on their current and future creative endeavors.

Read Artist Statements

Alexander Khah

I see my work as an intuitive expression that is transformed into a physical entity. I work with many different subjects, not fixed on any one idea. Many of my subjects incorporate self-identity with the human figure. .For me, art is a journey; a state of being, independent of outcome. It’s about spending time with myself, and through this process, I am awakened. Therefore, my art making process does not include much sketching and recording beforehand. Rather, I like to leave my options open as I work and allow the textures and materials to guide me. Through my artwork, I hope to pass on to the viewer my inspiration to see and recognize the subject, not only to look at the piece.

Brandon Pritzkat

I am a sculptor and social documentation photographer. I celebrate people and space. Where people live, how people make and use space, and the objects people need and consume are central themes and questions guiding my work.

I use portraiture to honor and tell stories of people who have been historically under or misrepresented; consent and trust-building are essential principles in my photograph making. Imaging the relationship between space, objects, and people help us to see differences in lived experience, which illuminates larger social issues or questions.

Caetano Gil Santos

My works are obsessively composed and compulsively graphic. Carefully drawn lines mingle to create a visual narrative that emerges and references contemporary underground culture. I am heavily influenced by the reckless and dangerous DIY aesthetic of skate, graffiti, and party culture, in which I draw upon to create antagonistically woeful imagery. Much of the iconography within my drawings and etchings allude to the vivacious lifestyles of youthful expression as I depict condoms, pills, alcohol, drugs, floating alongside graffiti caps and stylized fictional monsters. I create an atmosphere of static dissonance, which resonates, throughout my work, referencing the transition between a careless youth to a responsible adult. Precariously placed figures interlaced with sturdy cityscapes depict a superficial sense of security.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, a city compacted with large amounts of traffic and advertising, I am constantly being stimulated with a dense amount of visual imagery. I evoke this barrage of stimuli in my work through the repetition of closely packed line work. I come from Mid-City Los Angeles, a community on the edge of two different realities. In a few blocks you go from a poor neighborhood of predominantly black and Latino communities with liquor stores on every corner to an affluent predominantly white neighborhood.

The contemporary art process of idea formation before conceiving the work, holds little relevance to my design based graphic style of making art. I feel restricted by the notion that concept should come before creation. I explore what image making is while producing it, leaving the concept behind in order to freely discover all possibilities of image making. Much like a producer edits a song on the whim of a feeling, I add and subtract forms continuously until there is a harmony within the work.

Heileng Chio

Heileng Chio specializes in designing and painting in oils and acrylics. She paints in surrealistic style and creates artworks influenced by rooster. The rooster has a familial meaning to Heileng because she, her parents, and her twin sister belong to this Chinese Zodiac. This animal portrays a unique bond shared between her family members; it reminds her of her personal connection to her family.

Darrel McKelvie Ruppel

Holding a forceful instrument of social construction while enthralled with overwhelming yet momentary emotions, I use sculpture and performance to engage observers in interactive art. By participating and contributing to experiences and conversations, help me build an environment that promotes intimate thought, encourages shared knowledge, and redefines our purpose as human beings.

Formerly a manufacturer of heavy artillery, my vessel of a body and penetrating voice now guide fellow humans to divert social activities through a shifted perspective: one that empathizes with all sentient beings, non-animal life included. By tantalizing viewers with irresistible temptations toward action, I focus on the reciprocal relationship between the audience and the performers, blurring lines of obligatory or secluded involvement and satisfactory completion of a work.

When constructing visual works that elude connected performance, a similarly charged energy of life must be present—that is, an interaction must occur between the viewer and the subject that transcends creation and observance and approaches collaboration. This form of sculpture has lead to my most current examination of human influence, spanning from sound-reactive light sculptures to reimagined domesticated animal habitats to two-day long interviews, as I begin to examine physical presence within a monitored space.

Emma Atterbury

I plan to create a series of dog portraits attempting to capture the personality of each dog through color, composition, and brushstroke. My intention is to create large scale portraits harnessing half-realistic and half-abstract in styles to present a new perspective on the dog that would not be seen in a normal portrait. Dogs have been a part of my life since the beginning, with this I believe they possess a love sometimes difficult for fellow human beings to present to one another; I aim to present this series as a representation of said love which allows us to see these animals in a new light.

Grace Hazel Simpson

I have chosen art the same way art has chosen me. My purpose as an artist is partly selfish but mostly altruistic; I need art in my life to express my creativity and because it feeds my soul; but I also feel a compulsion to share my perspective through my photography to the public eye.

As a visual and kinesthetic learner, I yearn to use my hands and create tangibly. In this way, my art becomes real to me and I am able to better communicate with my audience what I am expressing.

As an artist, I create images through photographic techniques, printmaking, and mixed media, incorporating painting and drawing into my art images. My themes show my connection to nature and my observations of light and space, often involving ideas of the feminine. Within these themes, moods alter to express human experience, incorporating the beauty, the ugly, and the nitty-gritty.

Jessica Levine

Creating art makes me feel like I am pushing back on all of the outside information constantly being consumed by my senses. It allows me to de-tangle my thoughts and turn them into something tangible within my physical reality. I am interested in how ideas come to be as well as what connects everything and everyone together. Metal is my favorite medium to work in because I feel like it is permanent and unwavering, countering the uncertainty and constant change of everything else in life.

Jazel Socorro Muñoz

I use art as a conduit to self-exploration. A common theme I mostly gravitate to express is transcendence and entanglement. I am fascinated by concepts of our existence, the supernatural, the human experience, death, life after death, and the human connection.

Kayla Kemper

The illustrations, photos, and installations that I make explore relationships between people and landscape. I grew up with many ecstatic memories in a semi-wild, coastal environment and discovered how good it feels to be physically connected to nature. Today, I make art in order to restore, build, and deepen relationships with the natural world.

The energy of landscape and its emotional and spiritual vibrations are influential and vital to the decisions I make while producing photos. By manipulating and applying abstraction to landscape photography, I investigate the energy of landscape. Sometimes an image is a poor substitute for the visual, physical, and spiritual experience we have in the natural world. So, I alter colors, textures, and layers of real places to create landscapes that emit energy, emotion, and awaken the imagination. My photos are alcohol transferred onto watercolor paper or wood. These images are characterized by their imperfection. You can tell the photo wasn’t printed by a machine.

When experimenting with installation, performance, and conceptual work,  I juxtapose man-made and natural materials to build visual metaphors regarding the power of nature. I incorporate the surrounding environment into my artwork and involve myself and the viewer in a physical way.

Leonor A Pereda

Through my art, I create spaces for situations and introduce new ways of interaction.The meaning my work lies in the space between the  person and the interface I have created be it electronic or traditional. My electronic installations challenge the passive viewer to have a kinetic relationship with the piece and my traditional work examines life through a critical lens and creates the space for the viewer to consider subjects like homelessness and marginalized people in art.

Leah Stemmann

Torus: This flying disk is meant to remind viewers of the possibility of other intelligent beings and the mysteries beyond our reality. Mystery is important for imagining a reality infinitely different from the one we accept regularly. The piece invites participants to imagine unknown or alien ways of perceiving the universe and our place in it

Moon Clock: A short film about alternate realities and paranoia featuring footage from Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, monologue from Richard Linklater’s Slacker, and music by the musician Christ. The two-part video shows distorted, layered, and masked moments of daily life, sped up and slowed down dramatically to represent unclear memory and an elusive present that is simultaneously always and never happening. Poorly keyed visual effects portray concepts of reality as kitsch and made-up, but artificial time and space morph into eerie uncertainty.

Michelle Bueno

The intentions behind my artwork are to honor my grandmother and my late grandfather who have sparked my interest in learning more about my ancestral and cultural origins. I utilized a puzzle style painting technique to portray them as pieces that form part of my family tree and depict them in muted and achromatic colors. Through the use of darker and lighter shades of color I am able to capture their emotions and convey their characteristics during a time when they were younger.


2015 Carrillo Scholarship Recipients Gallery
Click to enlarge

Latino Art Now Conference

Topologies of Knowing: The Libraries and Laboratories of Amalia Mesa-Bains

The artist Amalia Mesa-Bains has long explored the relationships among women, colonialism, the Catholic Church, and indigenous cultures of Mexico. Some of her interests stem from the experience of growing up in the United States during the 1970s and 80s as a Mexican-American. Her aesthetic vocabulary was influenced by the Chicano civil rights movement in its efforts to celebrate and revive folk and fine art traditions from Mexico such as mural painting, printmaking, and the building of home altars for Dia de Los Muertos and other ritual or religious occasions.

Read More of the essay by Jennifer A. González

In its rich combination of images and objects that are placed in evocative juxtapositions, Mesa-Bains’ work offers a feminist reinterpretation of the Catholic home altar and capilla (yard shrine) traditions, and the parallel but distinct display practices of museums and cabinets of curiosity.

Installation art is notoriously difficult to document because it is meant to be experienced in the space of the gallery; viewers are expected to walk through it, to feel the full scale of the exhibition and also to linger on specific elements of the display following their own interests and curiosity. Seeing this kind of installation art through photographs and slides, whether online or off-line, rarely gives a sense of the three-dimensionality of the artwork, or the pleasure of discovery when looking at a particular detail. Instead we must rely on images made by others to do this work for us. I therefore invite you to imagine yourself in a quiet gallery space discovering these objects the way one would find rare treasures in an antiquarian museum or in the cluttered, personal space of a private home. For these are really the reference points for the artist, who is interested not only in reviving the private altar tradition of Mexican Catholicism, but also intrigued by spaces that are designed to contain and display knowledge, such as the library, the laboratory, and the museum—a place where the muses dwell.

There is an intriguing confluence of histories in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries linking the Spanish discovery and conquest of the Americas, the emergence of new systems for organizing knowledge, and early museums that took the form of cabinets of curiosity or private collections of rare and beautiful objects. Scientific laboratories for experimentation, and specimen displays of flora and fauna in adjacent rooms and gardens were frequently part of aristocratic private homes—displaying to visitors the intellectual prowess and access to global wealth of the duke or prince who owned them. Indeed, the so-called “age of discovery” revealed to Europeans that its previous concepts of many things (animal, vegetable, mineral) would have to change. New kinds of humans—the American “Indians”—also seemed to trouble the minds and souls of those who encountered and eventually killed them. Their destruction and enslavement made it possible to steal the gold figurines, exquisite feather work, stone sculptures and exotic plants that eventually adorned the private collections and gardens of European aristocrats and, some centuries later, public museums and botanical conservatories.

Mesa-Bains’ Curiositas: The Cabinet (1990), which appeared in the exhibition (Re) (Un) (Dis) Covering America, restages the interior of an imagined sixteenth-century collectors’ study, adorned with a Persian carpet, display cabinet and gilt armchair. [Fig.?] But this is not a facsimile; it is merely a reference point for other domestic interiors of collectors across the centuries. Ghostly pencil drawings hanging from the walls depict American Indian chiefs who have long since disappeared. The cabinet contains a motley array of symbolic objects from pre-Columbian figurines to iron bear traps and commercial boxes of corn with the imprint of indigenous bodies. Dry earth and gold-colored stones are scattered in front of the cabinet to serve as the ground for a miniature tableau: three tiny ships (symbolizing the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria that were part of the first Spanish exploration of the Americas) and a handful of figurines representing indigenous populations (all painted gold) are staged in their moment of contact. The armchair is ripped and torn like a wounded body, and possibly stands in for the indigenous bodies subsequently destroyed by the Spanish conquerors in their hunger for wealth. Both metaphorical and metonymical, the objects and artifacts stand as witnesses to this complex, tragic, and unequal interweaving of cultures.

Women’s contributions have frequently been excluded from historical accounts of science and the arts. Much of Mesa-Bains’ work has gone into recuperating women’s histories in order to invite us see feminine space and female daily activity as a site of power, healing and revitalization. Sor Juana’s Library, [Fig. ?] from the Venus Envy Chapter II (1992) installation, stages the artist’s imaginary vision of the private rooms of this illustrious seventeenth-century writer, scholar and Catholic nun Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, who lived in New Spain (today Mexico). Well known for her exceptional library and erudition, Sor Juana became notorious in her own lifetime for being ahead of many of her male contemporaries in the sciences and letters. She even made a famous plea to the male-dominated church for the better education of women—but was rebuffed. Her private collection of books and scientific equipment was confiscated by the Church, and she was forced into silence. The artwork is both an homage to Sor Juana and a revisionist restaging of learning environments for women. Williams College, who hosted the exhibition, had recently been the site of female student protests requesting the hiring of a Latina faculty member. The artist included images and articles from the student protest on her “reading table,” along with histories of Sor Juana, and texts by both indigenous and Spanish writers, thus inviting audience members to consider the links between past and present efforts by women and ethnic minorities to find access to institutions of learning and power. With the reading table, the installation also became a quiet sanctuary where anyone was welcome to sit on the stools provided to examine the contemporary literature and historical materials; if the art installation was a pedagogical space, it was also a contemplative space that changed the duration and the terms of the audience’s relation to art.

In line with her general interest in the possibilities of art to address the injuries of history and to achieve a kind of healing effect for herself after a serious accident, the artist installed the Curandera’s Botanica (2008) for the exhibition NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith in New York at the PS1 gallery and Geography of Memory at the Fresno Art Museum. A “curandera” is a traditional healer or shaman in indigenous communities of the Americas; a “botánica” is typically a retail store where one can find religious candles, folk remedies, varieties of herbs and natural medicines and other alternative healing talismans. Just as her earlier installations staged the intersection of Western European interests and systems of knowledge with those of indigenous cultures, the Curandera’s Botanica displays artifacts from two techniques of healing; the shimmering glass beakers and test tubes of medical chemistry laid out on a shining stainless steel surgical table, and below, the plants and grasses, feathers, religious icons, silver milagros glued to the table legs, shells and eggs, bones and incense that are all tools for alternative strategies to heal both body and spirit. On the ground lies another field of cut grass and evergreen branches, gravel and straw. Against one wall another cabinet, this time a tall metal pharmaceutical cabinet, holds a collection of personal mementos and objects appearing in previous installations: pre-conquest figures, family photographs, glass jars of earth, bottles of perfume and personal mementos. Atop the cabinet stands a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe. An over-sized Catholic rosary and what looks like a giant stethoscope, both painted silver, are draped over the top and down the side. Taken as a whole, the cabinet appears as a material topography of an individual life shaped by these two discourses of healing the body. It is a portrait—an autotopography—of the artist. It offers us a vision of conflicting cultural and medical systems that are here presented as a syncretic synthesis that gains power from the sum of its parts.

The power of Mesa-Bains’ installation work is to be found in the material details and their rhetorical juxtaposition in a carefully choreographed topology. Staged as libraries and laboratories they occupy a liminal place that invites us to think about the ways these two sites of knowledge production and dissemination are always culturally, historically and politically inflected. The viewer who takes the time to read the available texts and to look closely and carefully at the available artifacts will be rewarded with an astute critical vision of the long history of cultures—indigenous and European—who have been in conflict and collaboration for over five hundred years. From a distinctly Chicana perspective, Mesa-Bains’s installations offer temporary sanctuaries for considering this complex past, for mourning those who have been lost through violence and injustice, and celebrating those who survive.

—Jennifer A. González

Jennifer A. González teaches in the History of Art and Visual Culture department at the University of California, Santa Cruz and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York.

Text © Jennifer A. González, all rights reserved.
Artwork © Amalia Mesa-Bains, all rights reserved