Friday, December 09, 2016

Justin Favela and Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place

Justin Favela is one of 13 artists creating installations at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) for Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place. Visitors can watch Justin at work on his installation Fridalandia and explore his inspiration in an interactive space in the exhibition through December 16, 2016. Mi Tierra opens on February 19.  

Justin Favela in his work clothes

A few days ago, Flo and I participated in a unique (for us) event:   we had a public conversation with artist Justin Favela, of Las Vegas, NV, at the DAM.  Entitled an Insider Moment, Flo and I sat with Justin in the middle of his work-in-progress and talked about several things, such as his past art projects, his DAM installation, Frida Kahlo, piñata art, and Justin's bimonthly podcast Latinos Who Lunch, all in front of an attentive and eager audience who braved a very cold night and who had to maneuver through several Denver traffic jams because of the Parade of Lights, happening around the museum as we talked. It was a fun and enlightening evening.  Justin is charming and humorous, and quite serious about his work.  He's made a life-size piñata low-rider, and another one of his projects had him covering a Las Vegas motel with tissue paper.  You can see this amazing piece on his website, here at this link.

Latinos Who Lunch should also be on your radar.  Justin and his friend Babelito carry-on over lunch about almost anything.  Here's a link

There's an interesting video of Justin talking about his installation, Fridalandia,  on the DAM website at this link. 

Justin's technique is impressive.  Fridalandia will cover a huge area of the fourth floor of the museum.  Justin has traced artist renderings of the Valley of Mexico onto the wall, and he intends to "color" the paintings with tissue paper, creating a piñata effect.  
Here's a sample of what I'm talking about:

La Virgen de Guadalupe, with piñata texture

The installation also will feature a reproduction of Frida's plaza in her famous Casa de Azul.  Justin is using paper mâché to make copies of several items from the DAM's pre-Columbian collection.  The goal is to imitate Frida Kahlo's extensive collection of such objects.

We took a few photos during our event.

Justin and Flo with La Virgen and Tissue Paper

Painting Projected Onto Museum Wall for Tracing

Wall Tracing Waiting for Color

Some of Justin's Crew
Adding Details


And here's what the DAM says about the exhibit:

February 19, 2017 – October 22, 2017
Hamilton Building - Level 4
Included in general admission
Purchase general admission tickets online.
Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place will feature site-specific installations by 13 Latino artists that express experiences of contemporary life in the American West. Energizing and vibrant artwork will be presented by Carmen Argote (Los Angeles), Jaime Carrejo (Denver), Gabriel Dawe (Dallas), Claudio Dicochea (San Antonio), Daniela Edburg (San Miguel de Allende), Justin Favela (Las Vegas), Ana Teresa Fernández (San Francisco), Ramiro Gomez (West Hollywood), John Jota Leaños (San Francisco), Dmitri Obergfell (Denver), Ruben Ochoa (Los Angeles), Daisy Quezada (Santa Fe), and Xochi Solis (Austin).

These artists examine diverse narratives of migration and the complex layering of cultures throughout the Western United States through ideas related to labor, nostalgia, memory, visibility, and displacement. Installations will incorporate mixed-media, performance-based video art, digital animation, fiber constructions, painting, sculpture, and ceramics. 

To foster creativity and provide insight into the artistic process, the on-site development of the installations will be visible to the public beginning in December 2016, with scheduled opportunities for visitors to engage with artists. The exhibition will open February 19, 2017, and will be on view through October 22 of that year.

Mi Tierra: Contemporary Artists Explore Place is organized by the Denver Art Museum, and is curated by Rebecca Hart, Polly and Mark Addison Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the DAM. An exhibition catalog will be available in The Shops and online.


I highly recommend this exhibit -- the overall impact of the 13 artists will be powerful and beautiful.  If you get a chance, check out the artists as they work or when they talk about their work in one of the museum's Insider Moments.  Then enjoy the total exhibit beginning February 19.


Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in October, 2016

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