San Diego Art Institute presents ABOUT-FACE, an exploration of representation, sexuality, gender, and heritage- showcasing seven artists who deftly and intriguingly speak to sociocultural issues.
Artworks in the form of photography, sound installation, video, and social practice, spotlight the impressive artistry of Alanna Airitam, Morgan DeLuna, Michelada Think Tank, Quyên Nguyen-Le, Jimena Sarno, and dana washington. ABOUT-FACE also features Momentum, a video created by UCSD MFA graduate Lorna Simpson, the prominent Brooklyn-based artist whose work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Venice Biennale.
Alanna Airitam is a San Diego based photographer who portrays the beauty of people in their quirks and vulnerabilities. She recognizes that everyone has a unique story, but also that everyone shares the same human story. ABOUT-FACE will include portraits from The Golden Age, a series inspired by Dutch Realism and Airitam’s desire to see people of color in settings that show beauty, grace, and pride. Her photographs employ the lush light used by Renaissance artists and she surrounds her subjects with objects of inherent splendor- the results resemble Old Master paintings.
Morgan DeLuna is a San Diego based artist whose work explores the relationship between appearance and identity. ABOUT-FACE features work from several of DeLuna’s deliberations. Having studied the science behind dominant and recessive genes, she created Phenotype, an exploration in which she looked at her own diverse cultural heritage and produced a series of photographic selves, each expressing a different genetic dominance. Her Extrospection series considers the skin she’s in and represents a sense of self-reflection.
Michelada Think Tank (MTT) is a group of agitators for cultural equity. They are socially conscious artists, educators, and activists of color engaging with other people of color (PoC) and allies who are also interested in creative ways of making change happen. MTT facilitates conversations that confront the structural and institutional racism faced by people of color while promoting action beyond the discussion. The collective’s artistic practice consists of 30% community building, 30% institutional accountability, 30% facilitating discourse, and 10% serving micheladas.
Quyên Nguyen-Le (pronouns: they > she) is a Vietnamese-American filmmaker born and raised in Southern California, whose work explores the intersections of queerness, memory, and cultural identity. The video exhibited in ABOUT-FACE is titled Nước (Water/Homeland), and is an experimental narrative short film about a queer Vietnamese American teen who attempts to piece together and understand their mom's experience as a Vietnam War refugee.
Jimena Sarno, a multi-disciplinary artist and organizer, emigrated from Buenos Aires and now lives in Los Angeles. She works across a range of media including installation, sound, video, text, and sculpture. Her work reflects a desire to understand how systems of knowledge, classifications, and scripts become normalized, and the ways in which the dominant culture shapes a worldview. ABOUT-FACE highlights Sarno’s Public Address, a sound and sculpture installation that singles out the invisible/inaudible presence of the institution/state through the index of sound (clanking). For the viewer, the space they inhabit becomes evocative of protest.
dana washington is a visual artist working in San Diego and Los Angeles who uses film, portraiture, text, and narration to examine history, fiction, and memory. In Under Bone, the work included in ABOUT-FACE, she conjures elements of remembrance and family, with a narration that digs into the struggle of Black and queer persons, and considers oppression, healing, and futurity. Her video and film works have been shown at the Toronto Film Festival, Filmforum @ MOCA Los Angeles, and the Outfest Fusion LGBT People of Color Film Festival.
Lorna Simpson came to prominence in the 1980s with her pioneering approach to conceptual photography. Simpson’s early work – particularly her striking juxtapositions of text and staged images – raised questions about the nature of representation, identity, gender, race and history that continue to drive the artist’s expanding and multi-disciplinary practice today. She deftly explores the medium’s umbilical relation to memory and history, both central themes within her work. Her works have been exhibited at and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Haus der Kunst; Munich amongst others. Important international exhibitions have included the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany, and the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy. Lorna Simpson is represented by Hauser & Wirth.