"Rituals of Labor and Engagement: Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr."
Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art, Susan and Stephen Chandler Wing
SAN MARINO, Calif.— Two Los Angeles-based artists—Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr. —debut new work beginning Nov. 10 as part of an ongoing contemporary arts initiative at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. "Rituals of Labor and Engagement: Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr." (on view Nov. 10, 2018—Feb. 25, 2019 in the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art) marks the third year of The Huntington's /five project, in which artists are invited to explore The Huntington's vast collections and make new work in response.
For this year’s initiative, The Huntington partnered with the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College and invited Caycedo and Ybarra to be artists in residence. Focusing on the theme of identity, the artists spent several months working in The Huntington’s collections, exploring texts, artwork, and the botanical gardens through the lens of labor—mainly by people of color—as represented in materials they examined. The resulting works include a multimedia installation, drawings, and prints.
A highlight of “Rituals of Labor and Engagement” is a video by Caycedo that reconceptualizes iconic Huntington spaces through Afro-Latino and indigenous spiritual practices and dance. The exhibition also presents 24 new prints and drawings by Ybarra that bridge past and present through technique and subject matter, mixing his own iconography with imagery drawn from 15th and 16th-century European works in The Huntington’s collections.
“This exhibition—and indeed all of our programs relating to the /five initiative—dramatically spotlights exactly what The Huntington aims to do,” said Huntington President Karen R. Lawrence. “Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr. are bringing to life new and meaningful interpretations of our collections, so that traditions are challenged in exciting ways and visitors can be surprised and inspired.”
While both artists tackled the same overarching theme during their residencies at The Huntington, each zeroed in on different collection items or areas, employing their unique approaches and practices to achieve different results.
Caycedo sees the past as an active entity that can transform the way reality is perceived. The central piece of her multimedia installation in the exhibition is a 12-minute video, "Apariciones /Apparitions", in which ghost-like dancers inhabit The Huntington in unconventional ways. Choreographed by dance artist Marina Magalhães and shot by videographer David de Rozas, the piece is centered on brown, black, and queer bodies haunting The Huntington’s iconic and traditional spaces -- such as the sweeping sculpture-lined North Vista lawn and the rare book reading room in the Library building -- in sensuous movements informed by the spiritual rituals of an Afro-Brazilian deity, Oxúm. “The gaze of the dancers, or phantoms, holds the viewer accountable,” says Caycedo, something that she feels is too often missing from history and art. The video is accompanied by a three-panel screen displaying images and text from Caycedo’s research at The Huntington.
Ybarra’s project aims to shift perspectives that insist on seeing brown and black bodies almost exclusively as sources of labor, rather than as creators of intellectual or cultural work. While exploring The Huntington’s collections during his residency, Ybarra considered the contributions of medieval and Renaissance artists, pondering how he might reinterpret some of those traditions to reflect his own experience as a Chicano in Los Angeles. Small-scale engravings by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) as well as illuminated Renaissance manuscript pages captivated Ybarra’s imagination. Fascinated that works so small and personal could be so enduring and still speak clearly to a viewer today, he applied his skill in drawing to a process entirely new to him: the centuries-old process of printmaking. “The movements and gestures of printmaking are in some ways ritualistic. I’m still learning what they are,” he said. On view in the exhibition are selected aquatint etching and drawings by Ybarra, including the self-portrait “Go Big” as well as the Dürer work that inspired it. Also on view are several rare 15th and 16th-century illuminated Venetian miniatures that inspired others of his drawings.
Support for “Rituals of Labor and Engagement: Carolina Caycedo and Mario Ybarra Jr.” is provided by Terri and Jerry Kohl and family, the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, and the WHH Foundation.
Carolina Caycedo (b. 1978)
Born in London to Colombian parents, Carolina Caycedo has lived and worked in Los Angeles since 2012. She has developed publicly engaged projects in major cities across the globe, from Bogotá to London, New York to Paris, and San Juan to Tijuana. She has exhibited work at several international biennials and in solo shows in galleries from Los Angeles to Berlin. Her artist book Serpent River Book was included in “A Universal History of Infamy,” an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She recently participated in the Hammer Museum’s “Made in LA 2018” exhibition.
Mario Ybarra Jr. (b. 1973)
Mario Ybarra Jr. is an artist, educator, and activist involved in the Mexican-American community and street culture of greater Los Angeles. He creates sculptures, installations, photographs, and activist interventions to examine Mexican-American identity, and he is the co-founder of Slanguage, an artist group based in Wilmington, Calif. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Torino, and Zurich. His work was featured in “Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement” at LACMA, the 2008 Whitney Biennial, and the 2006 Prague Biennial.
Free admission for East Los Angeles College Students
Throughout the run of the exhibition, East Los Angeles College students with a current ID card are invited to visit The Huntington with free admission.
Curator Tour: “Rituals of Labor and Engagement”
Feb. 7 (Thursday) 5-6 p.m.
Join Huntington curator Jenny Watts and the director of the Vincent Price Art Museum, Pilar Tompkins Rivas for a tour of the exhibition. Members: $15. Non-Members: $20. Registration: Huntington.org/calendar.
Related exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum
Regeneración: Three Generations of Revolutionary Ideology (on view Sept. 29, 2018—Feb. 16, 2019) examines the transnational exchange of revolutionary and activist ideas across generations and between the U.S. and Mexico. It also builds, in part, on research in early 20th-century labor issues in Los Angeles. More information at vincentpriceartmuseum.org.
# # #
About The Huntington
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public. More information about The Huntington can be found online at huntington.org.
The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles. It is open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Information: 626-405-2100 or huntington.org.
The Huntington’s /five initiative pairs the institution with five different cultural organizations over five years, inviting contemporary artists to respond to a theme drawn from The Huntington’s deep and diverse library, art, and botanical collections. The results are intended to create engaging, thoughtful, provocative, and inspiring experiences for Huntington audiences.
In its first year (2016), the institution collaborated with NASA/JPL to present an installation of the outdoor sound sculpture “Orbit Pavilion” (on view through Sept. 2, 2019), giving a nod to The Huntington’s collections in the history of aerospace and astronomy. In the second year of the initiative, The Huntington teamed up with the Women’s Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles to explore the theme of collecting and collections, culminating in the exhibition, Collection/s: WCCW/five at The Huntington (Nov. 18, 2017—Feb. 12, 2018).