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CURRENT EXHIBITION: Sacred Cartographies

The Art of Amalia Mesa-Bains

Monday, November 2, 2015 - Sunday, December 20, 2015

The mixed-media work of artist, psychologist, curator, and professor AmaliaMesa-Bains has been informed by a lifetime dedicated to research and creative arts. Through an exploration of ancient and contemporary histories, Mesa-Bains traces how the past informs the present. Inspired by extensive study of the mythical Mictlan to the visual legacy of Nigeria, the artist has produced a series of rarely seen prints, which layer the visual narratives of people and places as well as cultures and histories.

While Amalia Mesa-Bains works in a variety of mediums, she is perhaps best-known for her intricate and large-scale contemporary installations and interpretations of the traditional sacred forms of altar, ofrenda, descanso and capilla. For this exhibition, Mesa-Bains has recreated the installation, Borders: Emblems of the Decade from the historic New York Decade show of 1990, done in collaboration with scholar Victor Zamudio Taylor. Borders as ofrenda is dedicated to the life and death of Mexican curator, Victor Zamudio-Taylor. Drawing parallels between historical and contemporary issues in art and culture formed the foundation of Zamudio-Taylor’s life’s work, and in this exhibition, we find the same dedication reflected in the art of Amalia’s Mesa-Bains

The mixed-media work of artist, psychologist, curator, and professor Amalia Mesa-Bains has been informed by a lifetime dedicated to research and the creative arts. Through an exploration of ancient and contemporary histories, Mesa-Bains traces how the past informs the present. Inspired by extensive study of the mythical Mictlan to the visual legacy of Nigeria, the artist has produced a series of rarely seen prints, which layer visual narratives of people and places as well as cultures and histories.

While Amalia Mesa-Bains works in a variety of mediums, she is perhaps best-known for her intricate, contemporary interpretations of traditional sacred forms of altar, ofrenda, descanso and capilla. For this exhibition, Mesa-Bains has recreated the installation Borders: Emblems of the Decade, first exhibited at The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s, and made in collaboration with the late Mexican curator and scholar,  Victor Zamudio Taylor. Here, Borders, as a large-scale ofrenda, is now dedicated to the life and death of Zamudio Taylor. Drawing parallels between historical and contemporary issues in art and culture formed the foundation of Zamudio Taylor’s life’s work, and in this exhibition, we find the same dedication reflected through the art of Amalia Mesa-Bains. 

Image: Dr. Amalia Mesa-Bains. Ancient Cartographies. 2002. Badius Botanicals Series.

Free and open to the public

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Amalia Mesa-Bains Biography
October 27, 2015 - Galerķa de la Raza, Galerķa de la Raza

Galería de la Raza

Sacred Cartographies: The Art of Amalia Mesa-Bains

 

 

Artist Bio

Amalia Mesa-Bains is an educator, artist and cultural critic. Her works, primarily interpretations of traditional Chicano altars, resonate both in contemporary formal terms and in their ties to her Chicano community and history. As an author of scholarly articles and a nationally known lecturer on Chicano art, her work has enhanced understanding of multi-culturalism and reflected major cultural and demographic shifts in the United States. Throughout her cross-disciplinary career, she has worked to define a Chicano and Latino aesthetic in the U.S. and in Latin America. She has pioneered the documentation and interpretation of long standing Chicano traditions in Mexican-American art, both through her cultural activism and through her own altar-installations.  Her writings are often required readings in Chicano Studies, Latino Art History and in Feminist Art university curricula. Her book, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism, with bell hooks, is an interethnic dialogue used in both Chicano and black studies. 

As an artist, her works have been exhibited and collected in both national and international venues including the Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Phillip Morris, the Museo del Barrio, the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Williams College Museum, the Queens Museum in New York, the Contemporary Exhibition Center of Lyon, France, the Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Sweden, The Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland, and the Culterforgenin in Copenhagen, Denmark,.

As a community advocate, she has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Board of Directors for both Galería de la Raza, where she created the ongoing Regeneration Project and the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens. She has developed public art projects with Center for Community Advocacy in Salinas as well as community based projects in Watsonville, Monterey and Seaside, California. She received her BA (1966) from San Jose State College, her MA (1971) from San Francisco State University, an M. A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1983) in psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley. The Association of American Cultures, The Association of Hispanic Artists, San Francisco State University Alumni, Stanford University Ernesto Galarza Award, and the University of Texas at Austin Americo Paredes Award are among those that have presented her with special achievement awards. She is a recipient of a distinguished MacArthur Fellowship. She founded and developed the Visual and Public Art program at California State University at Monterey Bay and is currently Professor Emerita at the university.

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