In State of the Art 2020, a free exhibition at both Crystal Bridges and the Momentary, spotlights the work of 61 artists working and creating art around the country today. Within the exhibition, artists explore an array of ideas and themes, revealing truth, complexities, and realities that are often unseen.
Next week, we will be hosting a free artist panel at the Momentary on Thursday, March 12, centering around ideas raised by two State of the Art 2020 artists (Marcela Pardo Ariza and Frank Blazquez) who are using their artworks to document, represent, and reflect their communities and histories to help reveal these truths.
Get to know a little about the three artists on the panel below, and join us for the free event on March 12:
Marcela Pardo Ariza’s photographs bring together historical images of queer communities in the Bay Area, sourced from different archives, including the San Francisco Public Library and the GLBT Historical Society, along with images of current Bay Area residents. These paired fragments of bodies—legs, arms, feet, hands—create an intergenerational link between groups separated by time. Ariza explains, “What was beautiful during this process was looking at images in these archives and feeling tenderness towards those people who used to walk the streets that now I walk in…I borrowed some of the images from the archive that had people in them. I rephotographed and reprinted them life-size. Then I invited queer people from our present time to be photographed with these cutouts of bodies from the past. Also, I thought about a kinship to those people who fought for us to exist here today, like a transhistorical kinship that is intergenerational beyond the people who are still with us today.”
With his stunning environmental portraits of New Mexicans from the International District, an Albuquerque neighborhood formally known as the “War Zone,” Frank Blazquez reminds us of the importance of contemporary portraiture. From its early beginnings, this type of artistic rendering was associated with the aristocracy, the church, prominent merchants, US presidents, and other people of wealth and power. Over time, the photographic portrait has come to be a powerful tool with which to depict the beauty, strength, and challenges of the everyday. With his series “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication,” Blazquez is doing just that.
Some of Blazquez’s subjects in this series are dealing with the impact of drug abuse, incarceration, or both. Others identify along the Latino/a/x spectrum. For Blazquez, who is in recovery from an opioid addiction himself, these characteristics are unifying and personal. Turning the camera on this subject matter “eliminate[s] the structure separating the Southwest Latina/o sphere from American photography,” while also providing the opportunity for viewers to understand this landscape from a different perspective. By “observing New Mexican–style living spaces, fashion, and iconography in pictures,” Blazquez notes, viewers gain “an authentic perspective on what it means to exist in a post–Gadsden Purchase American Southwest.”
Written by Allison Glenn, curator, contemporary art, Crystal Bridges.