Museo Eduardo Carrillo invites you to a virtual group show of the 2020 Eduardo Carrillo Scholarship Winners. The Eduardo Carrillo Scholarship, established in 1997 in memory of UC Santa Cruz Art Professor Emeritus and famed Chicano muralist Eduardo Carrillo, is awarded to the most talented emerging student-artists in the Art Department. Since its inception, the scholarship has benefited over 300 students.
Borderline Art Collective is a Bay Area artist group. The members share the desire for a cooperative environment to work alongside peers, the aspiration to sustain art in the Bay Area, and the commitment to community involvement and social justice.
This show is a digital iteration of Borderline Art Collective’s ongoing project: Slow Build, a collaborative format art exhibition. The four artists of Borderline Art Collective have each collaborated with an artist from outside of the collective, engaging in a call and response digital exchange of visual language. The Borderline artist begins the conversation with a single digital image of her own work. The selected artist responds in kind with a work inspired by the first image, to be posted two weeks after the first post. The Borderline artist will then respond to that image with another work, and finally, the selected artist will submit the fourth work, inspired by the progression thus far.
Slow Build Gallery
Initiating Artworks see artist reflections on the work»
Response #3 see artist reflections and view video
Slow Build: An Essay by Chris Cohoon
Two of my favorite exercises to engage people with art are Blind Contour Portraits and Exquisite Corpse Drawings. The fun, imaginative collaborations bypass inhibitions for those of us conditioned to fear failure, because there is no way to win or lose. Both activities live in the freedom of ridiculousness. Exquisite Corpse was born from absurdity. Surrealists exited the Dada movement, which expressed the existential vacuum of reason amidst the madness of Humanism’s technological triumph in gaseous trenches. Andre Breton, Yves Tanguy, Jacques Prevert, and Marcel Duchamp searched for meaning from within without the constraints of conventional philosophy. Together, they employed play; shedding conscious thought to uncover the automatic synaptic storms of the subconscious. As a communal exercise, Exquisite Corpse is the chimera of the collective subconscious.
The partnership between Museo Eduardo Carrillo and Borderline Collective for Slow Build is not the Surrealist, nonsensical juxtaposition performed as a conceptual work that it may appear to be at first. Given context, the only opportunity for the insertion of chance is the initial meeting between members of the two groups. Everything else makes perfect sense.
In January of 2020, I was involved with Monterey Museum of Art’s Art of the State Symposium. The theme was California Community: Artist Colonies and Collectives Past, Present, and Future. Traditional geographic communities such as Monterey/Carmel by the Sea and Arroyo Seco/Laguna Beach were covered in the program along with the Dada and photographic communities that developed in San Francisco. Despite the disparate seeds from which each community sprang, whether cheap housing, beautiful vistas, or strong personalities, the golden thread that connected each of the historical accounts was charity among artists – not feel good philanthropy, but that ancient understanding that the greatest of virtues is to put the needs of others above your own.
The final presentation of the symposium covered the present and future potential for artist communities. Borderline Collective spoke about their practice as a contemporary collective in the Bay Area (with one member in Chicago). They take on the virtue of generosity drawn from their communal, artistic predecessors and blow it up in the best way possible. Rather than existing as a collective for the benefit of their own work, they developed a practice that is about giving to other artists by creating spaces to promote art that would otherwise have little opportunity to exist. The collective provides a place for art to live which may not be marketable but adds substantial value to the present cultural conversation to shape a better future.
As chance, fate, or providence would have it, Betsy Andersen, Executive Director of the Museo Eduardo Carrillo (MEC), attended Borderline’s presentation and recognized a kindred spirit to that of the Museo’s namesake. Eduardo Carrillo was known for his generosity. As a prominent member of California’s Chicano Arts movement, his work brought recognition to a grossly underrepresented community. He founded El Centro de Arte Regional, Baja, California’s first Art Center, to mentor youth and develop arts in Mexico. He then returned to the U.S. and became a respected artist and professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he often allowed students and even passers by to pick up a brush and contribute to his murals. Like it’s namesake, MEC continues to share Chicana/o art, generously partnering with other institutions and creating incredible education programs. In the spirit of Carrillo, they design mentorship opportunities for young Latinx artists to work with and learn from older artists. And, as evinced by this exhibition, they seek out artists who give of themselves so that others flourish in an act of multiplication. For Slow Build, MEC sketched out the opportunity, unfolded the paper, and handed it to Borderline who drafted a beautiful concept, unfolded the paper, and handed it to others. Generative art, that which creates beyond itself, doesn’t get more exquisite than this.
Initiating Artists’ Introductions/Reflections
Danielle Andress is a Chicago based artist. She produces primarily non-functional weavings that investigate our relationships with consumable images and objects. She earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the California College of the Arts. Danielle is a co-founding and active member of Borderline Art Collective (San Francisco) and an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Marissa Geoffroy moved from New York to the Bay Area in 2014. She received her MFA in Fine Art from California College of the Arts (CCA). Marissa is a painter, photographer and sculptor. She is intrigued by spaces and architecture, and by the philosophical implications of human perception. She is also a founding member of Borderline Art Collective, which aims to support local artists, provide a venue for discourse, and expand art appreciation in the Bay Area. www.marissageoffroy.com
Amy Lange is an artist based in San Francisco, California. She received her BFA in Fibers from the University of Oregon in 2009, and received her MFA from California College of the Arts in spring 2017. She is a founding member of Borderline Art Collective in San Francisco. Amy makes objects, images, and installations inspired by the surfaces of other worlds using repurposed textiles as a jumping-off point. www.amy-lange.net
Tescia Seufferlein is an Oakland based installation and textile artist. Born and raised in the Silicon Valley, Tescia earned her Bachelor in Fine Arts and Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley in 2005. Tescia lived in New York City and Brooklyn from 2005-2015, working and living as an artist, costume designer and fabric painter. Although, she is a classically trained painter, her work today is based more in conceptual installations with political and social undertones. Most recently, Tescia’s work has been grappling with public displays of mourning and how we as a society cope with death and tragedy. Tescia graduated with her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2017. Seufferlein has shown work in Bushwick, Manhattan, Paris, and San Francisco. www.tesciaseufferlein.com
Responding Artists’ Introductions/Reflections
Elana Adler (b.1986) is a multidisciplinary artist who portrays social hierarchies and systems. She is interested in how the web of hierarchies and systems breathes and functions alongside systematic and symbolic boundaries, creating exclusion and inclusion. Utilizing the grid as an accessible visual language to discuss complex systems and structures of power; she challenges expectations of material potential. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2008 and her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017.
Responding to Danielle Andress’ “Untitled (When Surface Was Depth)”
The main objective of my work employs methods of distortion, transformation, dark humor, absurdity, contrasting color palettes, and the play between positive and negative space. Often, the imagery is overtly apparent, resembling certain icons found in popular culture, science fiction, and nature, while other times they are more concealed. By exploiting these situations through the juxtaposition of opposites, I hope to incite ideas that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and between beauty and ugliness.
Responding to Marissa Geoffroy’s Untitled (Wood Puzzle Collage)
In this piece, I worked from a photograph of a garden that I had visited in Japan from a few years ago during a residency. I found similarities between the colors and textures of Marissa’s piece to be comparable to the imagery of the Japanese garden.
In reaction to Marissa’s piece, I wanted to use the same type of collage method but through a different medium. My approach to printmaking incorporates collage-like methods of printed cut out shapes. I have had this unfinished print hanging in my studio for some time. Once I saw Marissa’s work, I immediately drew a correlation between the color, shape and textures of her piece and my mokuhanga print.
Nathan Becka is from Kansas City, and is curious about all of the things we are surrounded by and understanding our emotional attachments and their unnoticed significancies.
Nathan Becka IG
Responding to Amy Lange’s Crust #4
When Amy asked me to collaborate on this project I was immediately excited. Our practices are so different that could not imagine what we would end up making. But as I made my response to her, it occurred to me that it might mostly be our materials that are different.
The images in my video all came from a collection I have of old chemical industry and technology business-to-business magazines. I wanted to pull out anything that could relate to space or space travel. Deciding what to do with my out of context scraps reminded of other work Amy’s made which involved shredding second-hand clothing into strips that she wove and crocheted into a spacesuit and survival gear for other planets. Unraveling a magazine is not so different from a sweater. I look forward to seeing what happens when we weave it all back together.
Anna Rotty lives in Oakland, CA. Growing up in Massachusetts, she received a BFA in photography from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011. Anna has been part of the San Francisco Artists Studios since 2017 after a month-long residency with One Plus One Plus Two Collective. She is the co-founder of Work in Progress, an art discussion and critique group bringing together individuals practicing activism through creative outlets and promoting collaboration and support through the arts. She has recently exhibited with Incline Gallery, SF Camerawork, PhotoPlace Gallery and UMass Amherst. Projects have been featured with Stay Home Gallery, Juxtapoz and Six Feet Photography, and her alternative-process photography was recently recognized by the Denis Roussel Award. Community and collaboration is an important part of Anna’s practice. Anna is currently working as a Poll Worker Coordinator with the San Francisco Department of Elections.
Responding to Tescia Seufferlein’s “Repeated Reflections Series-M14 Freeway Lights”:
Contemplating Vastness and Worm’s Eye View
In response to Tescia’s piece “Repeated Reflections Series-M14 Freeway Lights” I began thinking about the lack of tactility in digital space and perspective. She created an insular repeated space that felt both vast and meditative, and similar to when a thought won’t escape, repeating over and over in an attempt to revise itself into something digestible. I wanted to see it bigger and touch it with my hands.
I printed the piece out and started to live with it on the wall of my studio, getting to know it, changing its direction over time, and moving the light source to see how it interacted with my physical space. I could see the image subtly in reverse on the backside of the paper and thought about an exchange. It bent and moved partly in my control, but with the print being so large, and me being alone, it had the ability to move in ways on its own. I let it dictate the space and I documented how light and shadows played into it, eventually piercing holes through the paper thinking about impact and transparency.
Initiating Artists Respond
Danielle Andress responds to Elana Adler’s “not consisting of an ever-changing flow of time but a calculable set of things”
Marissa Geoffroy responds to Kristi Arnold’s “Untitled”, Mokuhanga and colored pencil on paper” with “Untitled (Wood Wave)”
I am really responding to the squiggly curving branches and roots in Kristi’s drawing. I am picturing them coming to life in 3D as wooden twig-like forms. I am also planning to mimic her palette in this drawing – the spectrum of yellow to green to blue, the interplay of the pink and purple, and the white of the paper.
My first piece for this project was constructed of wood, and Kristi’s response depicted trees as the subject of her drawing. Her representation of the living wood is very evocative of the material for me, and so for my response piece I have returned to my initial medium. I have abstracted the branches and roots into wave forms, and have painted the sides with acrylic paint, using the color palette of Kristi’s work.
Amy Lange responds to Nathan Becka’s untitled video
Final response video by Amy Lange: “Mars was a distant shore, and the men spread upon it like waves”
Alternative Realities: Tescia Seufferlein responds to Anna Rotty’s “Alternative Horizons” with “Fire Tree”
As Anna and I have gone back and forth we have been playing with light, indoors and out. I began to play with the light of the fires, the orange sky seeping into my windows. Anna was doing the same!! I had a great image of this mini palm trees shadow against the orange light; it was gorgeous. I then began playing with my kaleidoscope and the light. It began to create these stain glass windows type images.
Final Responses from Responding Artists
Homage to Rohm A: Elena Adler Responds to “Trick Mirror” by Danielle Andress
Inspired by Robert Rohm, who made a series of instruction based installations using instruction and manila rope. I have been recreating my own versions of these installations. The images are documentation of the performative process.
Kristi Arnold Responds to Marissa Geoffroy’s “Untitled: Wood Wave”
AC On: Nathan Becka’s responds to Amy Lange’s video “Mars was a distant shore, and the men spread upon it like waves”
Sisyphus: Anna Rotty responds to Tescia Seufferlein’s “Fire Tree”
Tess’s piece “Fire Tree” gave me the sense of being within a space just outside a larger reality. Both repetitive and ethereal I couldn’t help but think of my days spent in Church as a kid, beneath an ornate ceiling, contemplating the stories of faith and forgiveness, but also of shame, guilt and punishment. Over the last few months, Tess and I have both been working with materiality, light and reflection to create seemingly larger worlds within the walls of our home. With the fires and the virus penetrating everyday thought, I considered my safe and privileged distance from these threats, thinking about interior and exterior, finally landing on an image reminiscent of a fiery hillside, conjuring consequence. I’ve been contemplating the human perspective and our impact on the land and the resilience and power of nature.
As part of a course titled “Building Websites for Social Change, a team of students from UCSC’s Oakes College collaborated to create an exhibit for Museo Eduardo Carrillo on Google’s Arts & Culture Platform. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown of in-person instruction, the class was conducted completely online via Zoom. Thanks to the students Davis O’Shea, Jazmin Sosa Herrera and Kaelen Alexander, and to instructor Vicki Winters! Scroll on to read students’ reflections on working on the exhibit, and view the exhibit itself.
I am a third year at UC Santa Cruz majoring in the History of Art and Visual Culture. I grew up in between the Bay Area and Nayarit. I am especially interested in visual cultural studies, graphic design and sound design.
My experience working on the Museo Eduardo Carrillo exhibition was thoroughly educational and enlightening. Not only was it an opportunity to learn about how to prepare and curate an exhibition as a team, but it was also an opportunity to work with and learn about local latinx artists such as Eduardo Carrillo, Amalia Mesa Bains, and others. Furthermore, it was really a unique experience learning about this entire process (team meetings, curation) in an online setting and exhibiting on the Google Arts and Culture platform. One personal highlight from the project was creating the collage at the beginning of the exhibition. While creating the collage, I was able to fully engage with the artworks directly and respectfully. As I arranged and cropped the artworks, my eyes latched on to the fine details and I grew to appreciate consistencies shared between the pieces. Many of the artworks tell powerful local and ancestral stories which resonate with the Califas Legacy writings. I hope that viewers can appreciate the details and the stories embedded in these artworks and writings. I also hope to apply the knowledge/skills that I have developed throughout this project (such as curation, research and design) in future professional and personal projects.
Jazmin Sosa Herrera
I am a third-year student double-majoring in Spanish Studies and Politics at UC Santa Cruz. I’m from San Diego, CA, and spend the majority of my time working as a Pre-Law Peer Adviser under the university’s Career Success Center, where I mainly focus on providing students with information regarding the law school application process and advise in professional development.
Working on the Museo Eduardo Carrillo exhibit has been a very rewarding and positive experience. Being able to learn how to create and edit exhibits through Google Arts and Culture was a new experience that I was able to use as a creative outlet for myself. The artwork displayed is very touching so being able to view it and structure how it should be displayed in the exhibit was really honorable. One particular thing I really enjoyed about this project was being able to read the Califas Legacy stories and tying them to some of the artwork. Those stories were very fun and relatable for me to read. Some other things I learned besides how to edit exhibits on Google Arts and Culture were how to convert images. I hope to use these skills in the future with personal projects, as well as the data entry skills I honed through this experience.
In 1982, as a professor of art at UC Santa Cruz, Eduardo Carrillo with Philip Brookman brought together innovative Chicano artists, intellectuals and visionaries at the UC sponsored conference, “Califas: Chicano art and culture in California.” Drawing inspiration from the spirit of the conference, The Califas Legacy Project is a multi-year, multi-medium, collaborative endeavor launched by Museo Eduardo Carrillo to document the legacy of our region’s Chicano/a cultural treasures: Guillermo (Yermo) Aranda, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Ralph D’Oliveira, and Carmen León. One medium is not enough to represent them and so the project includes a remarkable handprinted accordion book, a documentary film about the artists, web presence through Museo’s legacy section and a traveling exhibition of the featured artists’ work.
Califas: The Ancestral Journey/El Viaje Ancestral
In recognition of this need to focus on the art of the Central Coast Califas: The Ancestral Journey/El Viaje Ancestral is being produced jointly by Museo and Moving Parts Press as an integral part of the Califas Legacy Project. Working with book artist, typographer, and publisher Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press, the first phase of the project to be completed is a hand-painted, hand-printed, and hand-bound 18” x 18” x 18′ accordion-fold book that intertwines the Mexican-American, Chican/a/x, Peruvian, and Indigenous heritages of five central coast artists. The cover will be a shadowbox assemblage by Amalia. The expressive mural within by Ralph, Carmen and Yermo takes us on a mythic journey. An essay by Watsonville native, Gabriela Rodriguez-Gomez will be included. The book will roll out in a phased schedule between June and September 2020. What has been so gratifying to us all is that the Santa Cruz and Watsonville public libraries have developed a suite of programming for the community around the launch of the book this Summer and Fall. More updates will follow.
Do you already love this book? We plan to print a run of 750 trade edition books that will be distributed free to libraries, schools, universities and colleges and other cultural and social service agencies in our region. And beyond. We recognize the need to bring visibility to the vacant places in our culture’s art history through sharing the work of our region’s leading Chicano/a/x artists. Books need to be in people’s hands and the art needs to be part of people’s social consciousness.
Califas Legacy Project Documentary
Integral to the Califas Legacy Project is a documentary film by Wallace Boss. He records the artists in their own words and films them in their studio settings. It will complement and enhance the programming this coming summer and fall.
Collaboration with Young Writers’ Program
The sixth book in Hablamos Juntos series will come out this Spring. It will feature the Califas Legacy artists. The annual reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz offered by our long-time collaborator, the Young Writers Program, will feature some of the young authors reading their narratives inspired by the artists’ images. Join us.
Our project continues in 2021, through extended web presence in Museo’s Califas Legacy section. Would you like to see the work in person? A traveling exhibition of the featured artists Amalia Mesa-Bains, Carmen León, Ralph D’Oliveira and Yermo Aranda will be mounted at the Santa Cruz Art League in January and travel to the Monterey Museum of Art in the Spring, uniting our Central Coast communities. Be sure to come see the monographic exhibition of Eduardo’s work at the Sesnon Gallery at UC, Santa Cruz, curated by Shelby Graham, showing concurrently in Winter of 2021.
Thanks to the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz City Arts, and hit & run press for their support for this project.
Share your thoughts
Would you like to know more? Please contact us with your questions and thoughts, or post a comment below. We welcome your input.
The time post graduation after earning a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts often is followed with the question, “What Next?”
How do we blend studio practice with practical needs like making a living supporting oneself and maybe a family.
This work reflects the time of transition right before or just after leaving school.
The artists are Jorge Gomez-Gonzalez, Jennifer Ortiz, Natalie Jauregui Ortiz and Karina Tavares Perez from University of California, Santa Cruz, Narsiso Martinez from California State University, Long Beach, and Ysabel Martinez from the Cafritz Art Center at Montgomery College, Silver Springs, Maryland.
Keep an eye out for the work by these artists- you will see more of it in the ensuing years- I’m sure of it.
Museo gives a standing ovation for the amazing work of Wilted & Taylor Publishing Services, who have just received recognition for producing the Carrillo catalogue.
Testament of the Spirit has won a design and production award! AND Testament of the Spirit has been selected to compete at the awards show in January for the “Best of Show” designation.
This award is through Publishing Professionals Network which is an organization for book publishers west of the Mississippi.
Congratulations to the Crocker team, our curators Susan Leask and Kristina Perea Gilmore, and to our writers for all the work in making the catalog so worthy of this honor.
I recently made my first visit to the Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) in Watsonville, it’s a quick drive from Santa Cruz. The first thing you might notice heading into the gallery is that PVA’s logo is designed with the richly warm color scheme of teal, orange, and yellow. I make a comment to Betsy Andersen, Executive Director of Museo Eduardo Carrillo, on how good it looks. A really great first impression!
Once inside PVA Betsy gives Eduardo Carrillo’s oil painting, Value King, to them for their upcoming collaborative exhibit Hablamos Juntos/Together We Speak, Un Diálogo Visual/A Visual Dialog. This represents an ongoing collaboration between PVA, Young Writers Program (YWP) and Museo Eduardo Carrillo (MEC).
Later I was informed that a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant has funded this exhibition which is based on the Hablamos Juntos/Together We Speak project. The collaboration was spearheaded by Museo Eduardo Carrillo, Pajaro Valley Arts and Young Writers Program. In its fifth year the collaboration between the MEC and YWP put works of contemporary Latinx artists in front of middle and high school students as inspiration for personal narratives which are published in full color hard bound books. The Hablamos Juntos exhibition draws from artists in the first two years of the project and will feature the artwork of 20 artists from across California. Curator and artists’ stipends for workshops and panel discussions will be offered in conjunction with the exhibit.
The exhibit’s purpose was inspired by a comment made about “seeing original artwork” during Watsonville’s first Art Walk. The Art Walk contained banners of the Hablamos Juntos artwork and teen writing hung in the outward facing business windows in the downtown corridor. It was an open exhibit to bring Latinx art and the Watsonville community together.
Judy Stabile is officially PVA’s Treasurer but is also known to be a wearer of many hats and talents. Judy was motivated when she heard about the Art Walk comment and mobilized a team to schedule an exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts from August 8 – October 7, 2018 centered on original artworks that participated in the Hablamos Juntos project. Judy also made a point to give credit to the teamwork involved in making the exhibit a reality. I could tell Judy was effectively thorough when planning the exhibit because she spoke about the time limitations that a physical exhibit has and then followed up with a way to combat the issue. Judy Stabile and her team use a certain software to create really outstanding virtual tours that can be viewed online on the PVA’s website long after the physical exhibits have gone.
PVA represents to me what agency looks like under strong leadership and commodiere with community. Judy’s tenure with PVA makes her the heart and pulse of the gallery while running with a vibrant team built on grit and determination. I got a chance to interview Judy and learn her story within the organization as we walked around the pre-installed exhibit space. She is energetic, passionate, effective, and driven; qualities that make for a vanguard in Watsonville’s creative community. Judy started showing her work at PVA in the 1990’s and then decided in 2010 to enter the board during hard times for the organization. Most people weren’t aware of PVA’s risk of closure due to prior lacking leadership. After Judy stepped in to help, PVA overcame its obstacles by looking to grants for funding, building a strong board/committee, and fundraising. All with an attitude committed to creating quality exhibits and shows relevant to the community.
I left Pajaro Valley Arts in good heart and energy and I can honestly attribute it to the work Judy Stabile and the rest of the PVA family. The organization runs mostly through volunteer work which speaks volumes to the level of community engagement and heart they have. Come out and check out this truly inspirational show opening on August 8th.
Pajaro Valley Arts Website:
Hablamos Juntos Collaboration with PVA Info:
Hablamos Juntos 3D Gallery Tour:
I spend a lot of my time around downtown Santa Cruz and have always wondered what or who occupies the mezzanine on Pacific Avenue. In the past month I got to meet Vicki Winters, Museo’s website developer and creator of their online persona, whose office is housed there. Museo Eduardo Carrillo is an online museum which means Vicki’s role is central to manifesting the organizations visions.
I sat in a meeting between Vicki and Betsy Andersen discussing the Museo’s website updates. Her workplace had a homey personality complete with a tea set, art covering walls , and a foot massager. I payed attention to the way each communicated to the other. Throughout the meeting I sensed an air of relaxed professionalism. After many years of working together Vicki and Betsy easily share ideas to improve and expand the online museum and its offerings. When Vicki is not developing for Museo and others she works at sharing her knowledge and teaches web design skills to students at the UC Extension.
During the meeting I was given the chance to ask Museo’s web developer some questions. I was intrigued to know if there where any challenges designing for an art museum versus other platforms? Vicki answered that image quality and especially that of 3D type art were some of the more challenging aspects in her work. For instance, with sculptures, there is a higher degree of difficulty in capturing the works essence versus that of 2D art. I was also interested in finding out some of Vicki’s everyday encounters in her line of work. Vicki responded with challenges including organizing oneself, prioritizing projects, and creating a work life balance. However, the pros of working with art organizations and other groups included holding and creating their visions making work worth while.
Web developer’s are often taken for granted by the user as we just search for what we want and have it appear instantly to us. These developers are sometimes the unsung heroes which is why it is important to acknowledge people like Vicki Winters’ for all their hard work and time invested.
To find out more information about Vicki and her work:
Vicki’s Website: https://v-linkstudio.com/
What I know about El Chinaco is what Ed told me.
Who is El Chinaco? After the Chinese had finished working on the Central Pacific Railroad some of them, having had enough of Gringolandia, headed South to Mexico. Some of them became cowboys, and, take a look, pretty spectacular ones at that! Having adapted to the hardships of railroad work they already had the skills to deal with the rough physical life out of doors. So there you see a monumental horse beneath a monumental horseman with a decided Mexican aspect, and also a Chinese aspect, poised to be absorbed into multi-cultural Mexico. Ed saw connections, he was a uniter.
Currently on display at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art History (SC MAH) the exhibit “We Feed You: Works by Victor Cartagena” is available to visit until July 22, 2018. I would highly recommend going to see this exhibit if you have interests in food production injustices, sculptural installations, migrant worker issues, or social art in general. This show has it all!
“We Feed You” made me think about the ongoing labor struggles that still plague the US and the migrant’s stories within. Cartagena’s ideas on the systemic injustice of food production translated well with the materials used and the narratives contextualizing his art works. I was especially drawn to the decomposing “Cara de azúcar (Sugar Face)” for their nature with time but, the “Burrocracia” was my favorite art piece because it made me want to stay and absorb all it had to offer spanning the walls it covered. I thought “Labor Tea” was clever in its conceptual execution and pretty funny (pun-funny) from its title, of which I am a fan!
The placement of “La Santa Cena (The Last Supper)” inside the exhibit made me feel like it demanded attention. The instillation used a long table set with silverware and shiny China plates with blurred portraits burned into their centers, staring out at us the plate bound images contrasted with the mundane cement floored setting. The placement worked for me because the artwork emphasizes important and urgent issues plaguing migrant workers in our agricultural sectors including: unsafe working conditions, disappeared migrants and unhelpful bureaucratic systems. As a consumer of the food production industry in the States I realize I am not fully educated on the issues within that industry.
I feel it is important we have artists reminding us of the workers that oft-times don’t get our recognition, although they provide a nourishing necessity to us every single day.
May we open our eyes and hearts so we do not forget those working hard and in most cases within terrible conditions to feed our surrounding communities and our nation. These are the faces and stories behind the food we eat. We must not overlook them but fight alongside them for their wellbeing and justice. Stay engaged!
I got in contact with Victor to ask him a few questions about his art and the exhibit. Read his response below:
JM: A lot of your artwork deals with identity and in your current exhibit you talk about the identity of migrants working in food production. Do you have any advice for young artists tackling their own issues of identity?
VC: I would tell them to search and recognize what is key in the representation of the times we are living, to consider the political, cultural and social class where we are.The everyday life that we face when we are young are putting in images the abstract ideas that associate us: The idealists, fighters, revolutionaries.
Each generation has to live different events and we go hand in hand with the course of history, so what a young person has to live in the USA is different to other youth around the world. So, when considering one’s identity through artistic expression it is essential to recognize that each one of us is different from the others, based on beliefs, values, norms, attitudes yet we still inhabit the same world, time and space and this contributes to our cultural development.
JM: Your show currently at the Santa Cruz MAH is very evocative while touching on deep issues within the labor workforce here in the U.S. Were there any artists that inspired your creative process?
VC: I believe that I consciously and unconsciously am influenced by many artists in history, in terms of aesthetics. I think that in this project you can see a little influence of many, I would say. For instance, in the mural Burrocracia you can clearly see that Guernica of Picasso was an inspiration. It’s like saying, not only one atrocity is unique; the world we live in has many “Guernicas,” so to speak. You can also see traces of Francisco Goya and his engravings.
In what’s going on the sculptures made of sugar, I do not have a unique artist to identify as an influence. There are so many artists who are my guides, mentors and inspiration. Sugar, iron, metal in general are materials with so much information. In fact, sugar was the inspiration of the Mexican culture, the “calacas” (skulls/skeletons) from Dia de los Muertos was very fundamental in my decision to make these faces of sugar.
JM: Is there anything you want the viewer to take away and reflect upon after viewing this exhibit?
VC: I would like people to be able to step into the shoes of the disadvantaged, and to thank immigrants for their contribution to this society, to understand that we do the most difficult work for the benefit of many and with little reward. I also want them, when they thank Jesus, to thank JOSE too.
SC MAH Website:
More info about the SCMAH exhibition:
Good Times article on “We Feed You” exhibit:
KQED post on Cartagena: