fbpx MCASD To Launch Digital Programs Focused On Celebrated Chicanx Artists | Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
on 01 Jul 2020 1:17 PM
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Exhibition featuring San Diego native Yolanda López and To Tame a Wild Tongue Re-imagined in Virtual Formats
July 2, 2020

San Diego, CA In a creative pivot in response to the Covid-19 epidemic, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego announced plans to move forward with public programs for the exhibitionYolanda López: Portrait of the Artist. Thiswill be the first solo museum presentation of one of the most important Chicano/a/x artists working in California over the past five decades.

The exhibition will present a compendium of López’s work from the 1970s and early 80s, when she created a vivid body of paintings, drawings, and collages that reimagine representations of women within Chicano/a/x culture and mainstream society. In addition, on July 16 the Museum will launch online programming related to themes of Chicanx, Latinx, and Border Art in its permanent collection, held in conjunction with the virtual exhibition To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art after Chicanismo.

MCASD had planned to present Yolanda López: Portrait of the Artist centered on the activist artist in fall of 2020 at its Downtown San Diego location. Although the physical exhibition must be postponed until 2021, the Museum is now developing programs to be debuted online later in 2021.

California Humanities recently announced that MCASD is a recipient of a 2020 Humanities For All Project Grant award in support of Yolanda López: Portrait of the Artist. The Museum received one of only 16 Humanities for All Project Grants from the California Humanities and was the only San Diego recipient.

The virtual public programs will include video interviews with the artist; a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation of López’swork at Zukor Art Conservation in Oakland; an Outside Perspective panel of artists and scholars hosted remotely; and a Curator’s Perspective talk by exhibition curator Jill Dawsey, among others.

“While we eagerly await the exhibition of physical objects and the opportunity to welcome museum lovers back to our galleries, these online programs will allow MCASD to celebrate the life and work of this important San Diego-born artistin the here and now,” explained Dawsey.

López was born and raised in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego and attended San Diego State University and UC San Diego. In 1961 she moved to San Francisco, where she continues to live and work. Recognized as an icon of the Chicano Art Movement, López has nonetheless remained largely underrecognized by museums and the contemporary art world.

Yolanda López: Portrait of the Artist will bring together over 50 works in oil pastel, charcoal, collage, printmaking, and paint, centering on the artist’s Guadalupe triptych and an expansive series of related works, including rarely seen larger-than-life self-portraits. The exhibition will explore López’s profound legacy as a political artist and activistwhose works are characterized by their incisive analysis, indelible imagery, and wit. In her best-known work, Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe (1978), López depicts herself wearing running shoes and the Virgin Mary’s star-patterned mantle, an embodiment of physical agency and defiant joy. Among the most iconic artworks to emerge from the Chicano Movement, López’s Portrait rejects the colonial and patriarchal origins of the Guadalupe iconography, transforming the symbol into one of radical feminist optimism.

The exhibition will also be featured as a participant in the Feminist Art Coalition, a national platform for art projects that seek to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action. Working collectively, art museums and nonprofit institutions from across the United States will present concurrent events beginning in the fall of 2020.

Debuting on July 16, the Museum will launch online programming related to themes of Chicanx, Latinx, and Border Art. MCASD Curatorial Fellow Alana Hernandez will host a series of Charlas, or talks, held in conjunction with the virtual exhibition To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art after Chicanismo. This special online exhibition brings together over twenty-five artists from the Museum’s collection to explore distinct aspects of the Mexican American experience. Featuring works from the 1980s to the present, To Tame a Wild Tongue explores the reverberations of the post-Chicano moment, with special attention paid to our transnational border region.

The Charlas series, originally designed as series of in-gallery talks, will present conversations between exhibition curator Hernandez and five exhibiting artists who will discuss their work in relation to themes presented in the exhibition.


Schedule of Charlas via Instagram Live @MCASanDiego

Thursday, July 16, 11 am, Cog•nate Collective

Cog•nate Collective (the artist duo Amy Sánchez Arteaga and Misael Díaz) work across the United States-Mexico border region, developing public interventions and installations that highlight the contested social, physical, and political boundary between the two nations. 

Thursday, August 20, 11 am, Claudia Cano

Working in photography, film, and performance, San Diego-based Claudia Cano explores issues of labor, gender, and inequality. Focusing on the home and labor associated with the domestic sphere, Cano brings visibility to an often invisible Latinx workforce. 

Thursday, September 17, 11 am, Julio César Morales

Tijuana-born Julio César Morales’s practice focuses on issues of migration, labor, and informal economies, on both a personal and a global scale. The artist has positioned himself as a documentarian of people across the United States-Mexico borderlands.

Thursday, October 15, 11 am, Perry Vasquez

Culling from aspects of Chicanx car and popular culture, Perry Vásquez's installations and prints embrace a working-class sensibility that is defiant, yet humorous. Installations by the San Diego-based Vasquez underscore ongoing tensions related to citizenship and migration.

Thursday, November 19, 11 am, David Avalos

A key figure in San Diego’s Chicano Art Movement, David Avalos works in sculpture, installation, and public projects. His sculptures unabashedly assert the vernacular of rasquache as a form of resilience in the face of social, racial, and economic adversity.



Yolanda López (United States, b. 1942) was born and raised in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego and in 1961 moved to San Francisco, where she continues to live and work. In the late 1960s, López became part of the San Francisco State University Third World Strike and was a founding member of the defense committee for Los Siete de la Raza. López served as the artist for the community newspaper Basta Ya! and created graphic artworks that were instrumental in publicizing the case of Los Siete, a group of seven young Latinx men accused and later acquitted in the murder trial of a San Francisco police officer. López was already an established artist and organizer, then, when she returned to San Diego in the 1970s, completing a BFA at San Diego State University and an MFA at the University of California, San Diego. In San Diego, López worked with the Chicano Federation and the Committee on Chicano Rights. She later played an influential role in the San Francisco Bay Area working as educational director for the Mission District Cultural Center, and as an instructor at the University of California, Berkeley, Mills College, the California College of the Arts, and other Bay Area colleges for several decades. López is a Recipient of the National Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)and a monograph onthe artistwas published through the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press in 2008.

Toni Robin, TR/PR Public Relations, 858 483 3918, tr@trprsandiego.com