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Walking on Adobe: LA Plaza Interns at The Hammer

Date: 
Thu, 2016-08-04
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After visiting the Fowler at UCLA, the interns found themselves at the Hammer Museum's biennial exhibition series, Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only. This exhibition addresses Los Angeles as a center of activity inseparable from the global network of art production revealing how artists move fluidly between contexts and respond to their local conditions. Made in L.A. features new installations, videos, films, sculptures, performances, and paintings by emerging and under-recognized artists and allows visitors to experience current trends and art practices by LA artists.


Finding a Chicanx/Latinx presence proved to be more difficult at the Hammer, which says a lot about inclusivity and diversity in the representations at museums. Unless an exhibition is specifically dedicated to a Chicanx/Latinx artist (like it was at the Fowler), it becomes rarer to see Latinos be represented in "mainstream" art.


One Latino artist whose work stood out was LA native Rafa Esparza whose installation, Tierra, featured an adobe brick floor and a decorative armchair with a cactus emerging from the center of the seat. Esparza's work is a unique experience–people are allowed to physically interact, touch and walk on the installation. Tierra disrupts the perfectly laid white-tiled floors of the Hammer Museum, allowing the visitor to become part of the installment and challenge their sense of belonging, history, and identity.


The layout of the space with Esparza's work was quite simple, but there was a lot of detail and thought that went into creating the space he envisioned. For example, the bricks used on the floor are packed with history and emotion—they were made with hay, free dirt from Craigslist, horse dung from a stable in Altadena, and water from the L.A. River. “I like that relationship between the material and questions I have about recuperating a sense of identity or history,” Esparza explains.Tierra investigates identity, colonization, and lost cultures by bringing in tierra—literal earth—as a material that reconnects with the earth and reclaims space for Latinos in predominantly white cultural institutions.


Made in L.A. runs until August 28, so don’t miss out!