In Conversation with Amalia Mesa-Bains
Amalia Mesa-Bains’s artworks, spanning a range of formats and media, resonate in contemporary formal terms and in their ties to her Chicana/o community and history. Scholars Jennifer González and Adriana Zavala and artist Sandy Rodriguez join Mesa-Bains for an expanded conversation in response to these themes and other ideas in her work.
Jennifer A. González is a professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at UC Santa Cruz and a faculty member of the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York. Her books include Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art (2008), Pepón Osorio (2013), and Chicano and Chicana Art: A Critical Anthology (2019). She is also the author of numerous articles and exhibition catalog essays, including, most recently, “After Rivera: Iconoclastic Mestizaje” for Diego Rivera’s America (SFMOMA, 2022). Her essay, “Unruly Erotic: Fire, Flesh, Water,” appears in the catalog for Amalia Mesa-Bains: Archaeology of Memory
Adriana Zavala is an associate professor in the Departments of the History of Art and Architecture and Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University, Boston. She is the author of Becoming Modern, Becoming Tradition: Women, Gender, and Representation in Mexican Art (2010) and coauthor, with Delia Consentino, of the forthcoming Resurrecting Tenochtitlan: Imagining the Aztec Capital in Modern Mexico City. She has curated exhibitions on the work of Frida Kahlo, Lola Álvarez Bravo, and María Izquierdo. Her essay “Flowers and Songs: Memory, Nature, and the Empowered Feminine in the Prints and Books of Amalia Mesa-Bains” appears in the exhibition catalog for Amalia Mesa-Bains: Archaeology of Memory.
Sandy Rodriguez is a Los Angeles–based artist and researcher, and a first-generation Chicana raised on the US-Mexico border. Her Codex Rodriguez-Mondragón is made up of a collection of maps and paintings about the intersections of history, social memory, contemporary politics, and cultural production. Her work has been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Denver Art Museum; Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, in South Korea. Her work is included in the permanent collections of many libraries and museums.
Co-sponsored by the Jane Green Endowment for Studies in Art History and Criticism at Mills College, Northeastern University.