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The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presents the first museum career retrospective of Celia Álvarez Muñoz and the first solo museum exhibition of Griselda Rosas, on view from March 16 to August 13, 2023
(January 26 — San Diego, California) – From March 16 through August 13, 2023, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) will present the first museum retrospective of Texas-born artist Celia Álvarez Muñoz (b. 1937). Spanning forty years of her career, the exhibition features over 35 artworks––including six large-scale immersive installations, photographic series, and book projects––that highlight the artist’s playful, witty style, often characterized by her use of bilingual puns and mistranslation in text and image. Concurrently on view, Griselda Rosas: Yo te cuido is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, presenting new textile drawings and sculptures that explore the layered histories of the San Diego-Tijuana region.
Kathryn Kanjo, David C. Copley Director and CEO, comments: “These two milestone exhibitions by Celia Álvarez Muñoz and Griselda Rosas continue MCASD’s longstanding history of exhibitions that engage with the art and issues of the US-Mexico border region. MCASD first introduced Muñoz to museum audiences with the exhibition El Limite in 1991 and we are proud to be presenting this eminent artist’s overdue career survey .”
Organized by Isabel Casso, Assistant Curator at MCASD, and Dr. Kate Green, Chief Curator & Nancy E. Meinig Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Philbrook Museum of Art, Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding includes artist’s books, image-text art, mixed-media murals, and room-sized installations. Álvarez Muñoz’s works are motivated by her lived experiences on the United States-Mexico border, reflecting the distinct complexities of a bi-cultural and bi-lingual upbringing. Her Enlightenment series—comprising ten artist books—will be presented in its entirety for the first time. Each of these text-and-image works, such as Enlightenment #4: Which Came First? (1982), reflects a child’s grappling with language acquisition, combining the confusing play of verb tenses with a similar upending of the viewer’s ability to distinguish reality from illusion. El Límíte (1991), first exhibited in Álvarez Muñoz’s solo exhibition at MCASD in 1991, is a multi-layered installation composed of a painted mural, text pieces, and photography, which also speaks to the artist’s mestizaje upbringing. At once intimate and cerebral, analytical and joyful, Álvarez Muñoz’s artworks reflect the complexities of childhood, especially in a bi-cultural and bi-lingual border context.
“Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding is the first exhibition to recreate major large-scale installations that defined the groundbreaking career of an American artist who, since the 1980s, has combined two approaches often thought of as distinct: conceptual art and storytelling,” said Kate Green, PhD. “As this survey reveals, the resulting body of work potently addresses universal themes of language and assimilation and engages in cultural recovery through images and words, through the first-person perspective of a Chicana of the Catholic borderlands. With this exhibition, the practice of Celia Álvarez Muñoz, beloved within Latinx circles for decades, finally receives its wider due.”
This exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color publication by Santa Fe publishing non-profit Radius Books, and made available in May, 2023. As the first exhibition publication devoted to the artist’s forty-year career, this book will feature installation images of Muñoz’s photo and text-based pieces, book projects, and large-scale installations, alongside unpublished archival materials and timelines. The publication includes contributions by the exhibition’s curators as well as Roberto Tejada, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston and Josh T Franco, National Collector at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
On view in MCASD’s lower-level Copley Gallery, Griselda Rosas: Yo te cuido will be the first solo museum exhibition by the San Diego and Tijuana-based Rosas (b. 1977, Tijuana, BC, Mexico) and is organized by former MCASD Associate Curator Anthony Graham and currently coordinated by Senior Curator Jill Dawsey. Featuring new textile drawings and sculptural installations––many created for this exhibition––Yo te cuido foregrounds themes of inheritance and intergenerational knowledge.
In her textile creations, Rosas adopts embroidery skills learned from her mother, grandmother, and aunts, often using her young son’s drawings as foundations on which to layer, stitch, and build. Incorporating natural pigments and collage, Rosas combines these inventive images with historical imagery to evoke the collision and circulation of cultures. In such works, the artist frequently alludes to the introduction of Catholicism to Indigenous customs in the Americas as part of Spanish colonization. Images of saints and the Virgen de Guadalupe appear alongside figures dressed in Aztec regalia. Rosas’s rough-hewn sculptural works incorporate both organic and found materials, hovering between the recognizable and the unfamiliar, like archaeological findings. Two installations feature a series of works resembling slingshots enlarged to a dramatic scale and ornamented with decorative patterns. Secured with stretched rubber bands, the sculptures extend into the space of the gallery.
Rosas often engages with violent motifs of war and invasion—like military horses and weaponry—while simultaneously drawing our attention to their appearance as objects of child’s play. Rosas’s textile drawings are frequently made in collaboration with her son, embroidered directly onto his drawings of superheroes and wrestlers. The exhibition’s title, Yo te cuido, foregrounds the ambivalence of such symbols and objects: an endearment expressing care, it is also a cautionary promise of protection. By understanding how colonialist images and actions are entrenched within our present, Rosas’s playful drawings and sculptures craft new modes of envisioning our future..
“Griselda Rosas is one of the most gifted and compelling voices of the San Diego-Tijuana region and we are honored to present her first solo museum show, which was postponed due to the pandemic,” said Jill Dawsey, MCASD Senior Curator. “Rosas's deft handling of materials—from wood and cement to thread and natural pigments—is enriched by the artist’s allusions to colonial history and to daily life. Offering multiple entry points for viewers, Rosas’s artworks give us new ways to understand the entanglements of the past and present.”
A media preview will be held at MCASD on Tuesday, March 14 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, both artists will be present.
Celia Álvarez Muñoz: Breaking the Binding is organized by Isabel Casso, Assistant Curator at MCASD, and Dr. Kate Green, Chief Curator & Nancy E. Meinig Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at Philbrook Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible by underwriting support from the Cochrane Exhibition.
Griselda Rosas: Yo te cuido is organized by former MCASD Associate Curator Anthony Graham, with Senior Curator Jill Dawsey. This exhibition is presented with the generous underwriting support of Marcia Hazan and Mark Cammell.
Operations and programs at MCASD are made possible by the generous contributions for the Museum's Board of Trustees, MCASD Giving Circles and Members, the California Arts Council, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture through the Organizational Support Program, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, the E.A Michelson Foundation, the G.A Foster Legacy Foundation, the Lattatore Foundation, The Parker Foundation, the Qualcomm Foundation, and The ResMed Foundation.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of today. Open since 1941, we welcome all audiences to reflect on their lives, communities, and the ever-changing world through the powerful prism of contemporary art. Between two MCASD locations — one in the heart of downtown San Diego and the other in the coastal community of La Jolla — we showcase an internationally-recognized collection. MCASD’s dynamic exhibition schedule features a vast array of media in an unprecedented variety of spaces, along with a growing dedication to community experiences and public programs. As a cultural hub, MCASD seeks to catalyze conversation in our region.
Image 1: Celia Álvarez Muñoz, Petrocuatl, 1988. Courtesy of the artist. Image 2: Celia Álvarez Muñoz, El Límíte, 1991. Courtesy of the artist. Image 3: Griselda Rosas, El punto es que lo intrincado organiza sus fronteras, 2022. Embroidery and watercolor on paper, 31 x 45 in. (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Quint Gallery.
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