Upcoming Exhibitions

  • Disruption! Art and the Prison Industrial Complex

    Curated by Annie Buckley

    Artists: Karla Diaz, Stan Hunter, Peter Merts, Javier Quintero, Tony Ramirez, Paul Rucker, Gregory Sale, Noelle Swan, Robert Yovanov

    September 14 – December 6, 2019

    Opening Reception: September 14 from 2–4 p.m.

    The tragic facts of the history of incarceration in America are now widely recognized. That we imprison more people than anywhere else on the planet, for longer sentences, and in harsh conditions, is seen as a pressing problem across political aisles. Yet the trenchant issues of racial and economic injustice continue to plague a swollen system that ensnares millions of Americans. While incarcerated individuals are the most directly impacted, tendrils stretch into families and communities disproportionately impacted by violence and the criminal justice system. But the complexity of the system and efforts at reform are dwarfed by the cycle of trauma that inscribes and abets it. In the movement for prison reform, the expression “hurt people hurt people” has become a kind of mantra for a reason. Crime and its impacts are not individual issues but communal and familial ones, with deep roots in slavery, inequity, and domestic violence.

    Where does art fit into all of this? How can the arts disrupt cycles of trauma and promote healing and connection, inspire education and social change? Within the strict confines and jagged social structure of the American prison system, art plays a particularly poignant and pressing role. It is often the only outlet an individual stripped of rights has to give voice to thoughts and ideas, memories and dreams. For contemporary artists beyond the walls, art can be a means to critique, dialogue, and imagine solutions to the intractable problems of the prison industrial complex.

    Disruption! brings together artists directly impacted by the system with artists that address it in their work. The multimedia artist Paul Rucker’s immersive installation, Proliferation, 2005, demonstrates the social, geographical, political, and emotional impact of the growth of prisons in the United States from 1778 to 2005, making space for pause and reflection, while Peter Merts’ moving photographs of Arts in Corrections give voice to those trapped in the system and embody the power of the arts to cultivate joy, imagination, and freedom in the most restrictive environments. In a solitary cell, with nothing but the blue uniform on his back, Tony Ramirez uses precious morning coffee and a handmade brush to paint a series of portraits of his hero, President Barack Obama; also behind bars, Javier Quintero, innovates a painstakingly detailed drawing style to create photorealistic portraits of himself with his wife to mail to her.

    Artists Gregory Sale and Karla Diaz each collaborate with system-impacted individuals and communities to create participatory performances and social practice works, respectively, that offer meaningful opportunities for connection, dialogue, and common ground. Photographer Noelle Swan explores the complex emotional layers of the impact of murder on her family and finds an unlikely avenue for healing in the restorative justice movement, where the incarcerated individuals that she meets connect deeply to her family tragedy. Stan Hunter similarly locates healing through art. Hunter taught himself to paint while incarcerated for 30 years. Recognizing the powerful impact art had on his own growth, Hunter began to teach others inside to paint. Now released, he is a Lead Teaching Artist with the Prison Arts Collective, taking the journey full circle.

    Artist Bios

    Karla Diaz is an artist, writer, educator, and activist born in Los Angeles and raised in both Mexico and L.A. Her multidisciplinary work questions institutional power, investigates language, explores cultural relationships, and provokes dialogue. She received her MFA from CalArts in 2004 and has published and exhibited her work in local, national, and international venues including MOCA, LACMA, MD2011 Medellin Colombia, Museo Cervantez in Spain, the Whitney in New York, the ICA in Boston, and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She is co-director and founding member of Slanguage Studio, an artist community space/collective, and has received several awards, notably a city of Los Angeles Arts Recognition Award and an Art Matters award for her “Prison Gourmet” project. She teaches at Cal State University Long Beach.

    Stan Hunter is a practicing artist who taught himself to paint while incarcerated for over thirty years. Finding deep healing through art, he dedicated himself to sharing it with others and has supported numerous peers to find joy and meaning through art. He finds purpose in sharing his skills and artistic techniques with those who may be struggling to find their own purpose. Hunter is a founding member and lead teaching artist with the Prison Arts Collective.

    Peter Merts has been a photographer for 40 years, specializing in fine art, documentary, and portrait styles. He has published, exhibited, and lectured in the US and abroad. For the past 12 years, Peter has documented California’s Arts in Corrections program—first as a volunteer, then under contract with the California Arts Council. He has photographed in all of California’s 36 adult state prisons and serves on the advisory board of the Prison Arts Collective. Peter co-published, with Dr. Larry Brewster, the book Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons (now in its 2nd edition).

    Javier Quintero is an artist that is currently incarcerated and serving four life sentences that he received at age 15. He was sent to a maximum security prison at 17 and began to draw as a way to deal with a violent environment. Quintero explains that drawing “kept me sane” and, after many years behind bars, keeps him motivated and allows for enjoyment. In 2018, Quintero completed the Prison Arts Collective Facilitator Training. He often sends artwork to his wife, advocate Xochitl Quintero, who was instrumental in loaning pieces for this exhibition.

    Tony Ramirez is an artist that is currently incarcerated in Ironwood State Prison. Ramirez paints, draws, and has been teaching others to do the same ever since he learned. He is well respected among his peers for his mentorship and innovation, evidenced in this exhibition by portraits made in coffee. Currently struggling with losing his eyesight, Ramirez is learning to play the guitar. Ramirez has also been a Peer Facilitator in the Prison Arts Collective since 2017.

    Paul Rucker is a composer, musician, and visual artist who combines media, often integrating live performance, sound, video, animation, original compositions, storytelling, and visual art. His work is the product of a rich interactive process, through which he investigates community impacts, human rights issues, historical research, and basic human emotions surrounding particular subject matter. Much of his current work focuses on dismantling inequity in order to create positive change. Rucker has received numerous grants, awards, and residencies for visual art and music. Among many notable achievements are an award for Visual Art from the Creative Capital Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the first artist-in-residence at the National Museum of African American Culture, a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center, and a TED Fellow.

    Artist Gregory Sale brings together a multitude of individuals implicated in and working with the criminal justice system. His projects organize frameworks of engagement for individuals directly affected by the system, connecting them with communities and encouraging reciprocal dialogue and mutual learning. His projects include It’s not just black and white (2011) at ASU Art Museum, and Future IDs at Alcatraz (2018-19) for the iconic prison turned National Park in San Francisco Bay. His work has received support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, Creative Capital, A Blade of Grass, and Andy Warhol Foundation. He teaches at Arizona State University.

    Noelle Swan is a documentary and editorial photographer that uses still and video images in visual storytelling. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally. In 2010, Noelle was a Critical Mass finalist for Life After Death, a body of work documenting the tragic effects of her sister’s murder, and in 2011, she was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize in Photography. Noelle is a founding member of SIX SHOOTERS, a group of six female photographers, and is currently focused on personal photographic projects, writing and restorative justice.

    Robert Yovanov is an artist that is currently incarcerated at the California Institution for Men in Chino. He became involved in the Community-based Art program, now the Prison Arts Collective, in 2013 and has been an active peer leader in the program ever since. He is a cartoonist and is learning to paint. He also teaches a popular Foundations in Art class with the Prison Arts Collective and continues to support the growing arts community at the institution.

    About the Curator

    Annie Buckley is a multidisciplinary artist who has written extensively about art for leading publications in the field including Artforum, Art in America, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and KCET Artbound. In addition to her role as professor of Visual Studies, at Cal State San Bernardino, she is the founding director of the Prison Arts Collective, where she co-teaches and oversees a teaching team that facilitates weekly programming on 12 yards in eight state prisons through a contract with Arts in Corrections, an initiative of the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with additional funding from CDCR and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009, Video/Audio/Animation, Dimensions 11:30 Projected on Large Monitor
    Paul Rucker, Proliferation, 2009/2012, Video/audio/animation, Dimensions: 11:30 projected on large monitor

    Special Event:

    Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists & Scholars Lecture Series
    Tuesday, December 3 at 4:15 p.m., Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College

    Father Peter Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles

    Keynote Lecture by Father Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

    Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

    A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.

    Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.

    In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

    Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.

    He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.


    Related Events

    * Please note: All exhibition events will take place on the Pitzer campus and in correctional institutions. Events on campus are open to the public. Events in corrections are by invitation.*

    Thursday, September 26, 1:20 – 4 p.m., Pitzer College
    The Actor’s Gang Reentry Project: Open Workshop/Performance of Commedia dell’Arte
    The Actor’s Gang at the California Institution for Women, Sept 21 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    The Actors’ Gang Reentry Project will host an open workshop/performance of Commedia dell’Arte co-facilitated by formerly incarcerated alumni. Participants will experience the highly physical and emotional style of improvised theater taught by The Actors’ Gang Prison Project for the last thirteen years throughout California’s state prisons.


    October 24, 1:20 – 4 p.m., Pitzer College
    The Strindberg Laboratory and Kukunori co-lead a workshop together with over 50 organizations and individuals creating a world without labels and walls
    Strindberg and Kukunori at the California Institution for Women, Oct. 24, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

    The Strindberg Laboratory joins with the Finnish group Kukunori and the international coalition, No Labels, No Walls, to conduct a theater art workshop to create flags for a world without labels and walls. The flags will represent the participants’ views on what it means to be free from stigma and in a world where equality is a reality. Join the movement!


    November 21, 1:20 – 4:00 p.m., Pitzer College
    Prison Arts Collective: Exhibition Walkthrough and Responsive Art Workshop
    Prison Arts Collective at California Institution for Men, Nov. 8, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

    The Prison Arts Collective will present a guided exhibition tour and responsive art workshop. Participants will gain insight into the meaning and experience of art in prison, engage in dialogue about the impact of art in the restorative justice movement, and create art and writing projects to reflect on the issues, narratives, and emotional responses to the exhibition.

    This exhibition and related events are generously supported by the Justice Education Initiative at the Claremont Colleges, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Murray Pepper and Vicki Reynolds Pepper Distinguished Visiting Artists and Scholars Endowed Fund; and Office of the Dean of Faculty at Pitzer College.



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  • Emerging Artist Series #14: Cathy Akers

    Pitzer College Art Galleries, February 2 – March 28, 2019

    Opening Reception:
    Saturday, February 2, 2-4 p.m.

    Cathy Akers:
    A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered
     

    Expectant (2018), Porcelain, photocopy transfer, underglaze and glaze, 14.25″H x 13″W x 14″D

    The result of more than ten years of research, Cathy Akers’ installation A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered explores two northern Californian experimental communes that closed in 1973. Examining the impulse for communal living outside conventional contexts, the exhibition focuses on utopian aspects of these intentional communities as well as their potential for dysfunction.

    Included in the exhibition are a number of exploded ceramic vase-like forms, which combine photographic fragments from the communes’ archives with text that has been inscribed onto the surface of the objects. Extracted from stories narrated by the women themselves, the text articulates different aspects of communal living—surviving off the land, drug experimentation, sexual violence, and utopian idealism. Marginalized as a result of their decision to live outside conventional parameters, these women’s lives have often been overlooked and forgotten. A Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheeler’s Ranches Reconsidered gives voice to their experiences and value to their existence.

     

    Related Event:

    Panel Discussion: Countercultural Positions, Motherhood, and Reclaiming Craft as a Feminist Practice

    with Cathy Akers, Micol Hebron, Claudia Parducci, Astri Swendsrud, and Jemima Wyman

    This panel will consider the current resurgence of ceramics in contemporary art making with a particular emphasis on its use by women artists as a means to reclaim the traditionally gendered practice of craft. The panelists will also investigate the role of women as producers of counterculture in relation to Cathy Akers’ exhibition, Utopia for Some: Morningstar and Wheelers Ranches Reconsidered.

    Wednesday, March 27 at 1:30 p.m.
    Broad Performance Space, Pitzer College

    About the panelists:

    Cathy Akers works with photography, ceramics and installation. Her work has been exhibited in solo or two-person shows at Pitzer College Art Galleries, Honor Fraser Gallery, and Emma Gray Headquarters in Los Angeles. She has had group shows in Israel, Germany, the U.K., Poland, and the Czech Republic. Akers has a MFA from CalArts.

    Micol Hebron is an interdisciplinary feminist artist whose practice includes studio work, curating, writing, social media, crowd-sourcing, teaching, public-speaking, and both individual and collaborative projects. She grew up in a tent with hippie parents in the redwoods of Northern California. Hebron is an Associate Professor of Art at Chapman University.

    LA-based artist Claudia Parducci’s work concerns the cycles of human conflict and strategies for survival, and spans a multi-disciplinary practice that includes drawing, painting, and sculpture. Since receiving her MFA from CalArts in 2006, Parducci’s work has been shown nationally and internationally. Her next solo exhibition will take place in March 2019 at Ochi Projects, Los Angeles.

    Astri Swendsrud is a Los Angeles-based artist. Much of her recent work is part of the collaborative project Semi-Tropic Spiritualists, through which she creates interactive, multi-disciplinary works exploring the histories and influences of utopian and visionary communities in California. She is also co-founder and co-director of the artist-run space Elephant and works as Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Art at Biola University.

    Jemima Wyman makes work that investigates visual resistance as a social, formal, and political strategy. Her recent solo exhibitions were held at Commonwealth & Council, Sullivan and Strumpf, and Milani Gallery. Wyman’s work has been exhibited internationally in Korea, Germany, Japan, England, and The Netherlands. She has collaborated with Anna Mayer as CamLab since 2005.

    This event is free and open to the public.



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  • Publishing Against the Grain
    Pages, Issue Nine cover image, 2013. Courtesy of Pages and Independent Curators International (ICI).
    Pages, Issue Nine cover image, 2013. Courtesy of Pages and Independent Curators International (ICI).
    PISEAGRAMA, Issue Seven cover image, 2015. Courtesy of PISEAGRAMA and Independent Curators International (ICI).
    PISEAGRAMA, Issue Seven cover image, 2015. Courtesy of PISEAGRAMA and Independent Curators International (ICI). [clear]
    SCROLL: Project on Paper, cover image, 2017. Courtesy of SCROLL and Independent Curators International (ICI).
    SCROLL: Project on Paper, cover image, 2017. Courtesy of SCROLL and Independent Curators International (ICI).

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    Pitzer College Art Galleries, February 2 – March 28, 2019

    Opening Reception and X-TRA Forum #5: One Text Two Minutes:
    Saturday, February 2, 2-4 p.m.

    Organized by the Independent Curators International (ICI), Publishing Against the Grain provides a space for reading, thinking, and conversing, where slowing down can become a form of intellectual resistance. It encourages discursive public participation, self-reflective investigation, and invites visitors to discover new perspectives while connecting differing and analogous spheres of contemporary art. In the context of today’s corporatization and commodification of cultural institutions, and in many political situations where free speech becomes ever more precarious, independent publishing has shown extraordinary vitality and importance as a platform for disseminating alternative, progressive and autonomous positions.

    Publishing Against the Grain highlights the current state of publishing and art criticism as it exists in small journals, experimental publications, websites, and radio, as well as other innovative forms. It is organized around projects that connect theoretical, social, political, and aesthetic questions with a focus on community, whether understood in relation to a particular place, or defined in identitarian or diasporic terms. Included in the exhibition are print journals like Makhzin (Lebanon) and Pisegrama (Brazil), alongside more experimental forms like tranzit’s interactive Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary). In bringing these projects together from around the world, Publishing Against the Grain reveals how their material and discursive activities respond to intersecting subjects such as contemporary aesthetics, diaspora, sex and gender, gentrification, race, language, and art history.

    Publishing Against the Grain is an exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York, and initiated by Alaina Claire Feldman and Becky Nahom, with Sanna Almajedi. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

    Key contributors to Publishing Against the Grain include:

    Art Against Art (Germany)
    Bisagra (Peru)
    Chimurenga (The Chronic / The Pan African Space Station) (South Africa)
    Curatorial Dictionary (Hungary)
    East of Borneo (United States)
    Exhausted Geographies (Pakistan)
    Fillip (Canada)
    Glänta (Sweden)
    Makhzin (Lebanon)
    Our Literal Speed (United States)
    Pages (The Netherlands / Iran)
    PISEAGRAMA (Brazil)
    Raking Leaves (Sri Lanka)
    SALT. (United Kingdom)
    Start Journal (Uganda)
    Stationary (Hong Kong)
    Tráfico Visual (Venezuela)
    White Fungus (Taiwan)
    X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly (United States)
    Antena Aire (United States)
    LibroMobile (Unites States)
    Mochi-la (Mexico and United States)
    BOOKSHELVES (United States)

     

    Related Event:

    X-TRA Forum #5: One Text Two Minutes
    with Cathy Akers, Stacey Allan, Brent Armendinger, Leslie Dick, Micol Hebron, Nick Herman, Christopher James, Olga Koumoundouros, Jeff Khonsary, Thomas Lawson, Hailey Loman, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Rachel Mayeri, Susan Silton, Aziz Sohail, and Carlin Wing

    Join us for this program of 2-minute readings by sixteen artists who will share an article chosen from the exhibition. Participants might read directly from the journal or share an anecdote. Presentations are likely to be somewhat spontaneous, un-rehearsed and conversational. Publishing Against the Grain includes X-TRA’s complete archive.

     



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