From the stars to the land: A weekend with artists Sarah Rosalena and Sandy Rodriguez

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From the stars to the land: A weekend with artists Sarah Rosalena and Sandy Rodriguez
Sarah Rosalena, "Spiral Arm Red," 2023, hand-dyed cochineal wool yarn, black cotton yarn, image source Milky Way Galaxy Photo Credit: Ruben Diaz.

SANTA BARBARA, CA.- The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Art, Design & Architecture Museum at UC Santa Barbara are including a weekend program featuring artists Sarah Rosalena and Sandy Rodriguez on July 28–29 in association with the concurrent exhibitions Sarah Rosalena: Pointing Star at MCASB and Sandy Rodriguez — Unfolding Histories: 200 Years of Resistance at the AD&A Museum.

In their intersecting art practices, Rosalena and Rodriguez’s research-based work recovers knowledge from the past and present, mapping with materials and techniques of the Americas with weaving and painting to depict histories of resistance between land and sky.

The solo exhibition by Sarah Rosalena, Pointing Star, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara is a series of textiles and ceramics that refigure eight-pointed star motifs used across Turtle Island — here in Wixárika patterns — as a template for weaving images of stars. Works are viewed as hybrid forms, both created by hand and programmed software. For example, Spiral Arm uses a Hubble telescope image of the Milky Way, where the artist reinterpreted each pixel of the digital image into a set of complex weave structures, then handwoven on her loom.

The exhibition also incorporates eight-pointed star motifs in ceramic, directly taken from the textiles. As the title suggests, the star motif is not an axis or compass, but rather an entrance into the boundless, which contains all conceivable and inconceivable directions at once. The design points in all directions, representing the entirety of the Universe beyond measurement and borders. The woven works point to the infinite as glitch, generating new possibilities for geospatial edges and digital color (RGB).

An acclaimed feature in Rosalena’s work is her use of weaving and digital fabrication across mediums of clay and hand-dyed fiber, demonstrating the process of the creation and mastery of string figures possessed in mathematical thought toward infinity. Generated works are constantly becoming, providing new aesthetic modes of thinking, making, and being. Their patterns can trace long networks that enable technological formations and infrastructures based on the origin of the computer: the Jacquard loom. Each pattern has its own human subjectivity and outcome of a historically specific practice that has symbolic resonances within their materialization.

Sarah Rosalena (Wixárika, b. 1982, Los Angeles) is Assistant Professor of Art at UC Santa Barbara in Computational Craft and Haptic Media. Her work deconstructs technology with material interventions, creating new narratives for hybrid objects that function between human/nonhuman, ancient/future, handmade/autonomous to override power structures rooted in colonialism. She has received awards from Artadia, Creative Capital, the LACMA Art + Tech Lab Grant, Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, the Steve Wilson Award from Leonardo, the International Society for Art, Sciences, and Technology, and the Center for Craft. She has presented her work at places such as LACMA, Clockshop, Blum & Poe Gallery, Frieze LA, New Wight Gallery, and Ars Electronica. Upcoming solo exhibitions includeSarah Rosalena: In All Directions at the Columbus Museum of Art. Her work is in the permanent collection at LACMA.

Sandy Rodriguez maps ongoing cycles of violence on communities of color by blending historical and recent events. The exhibition Unfolding Histories: 200 Years of Resistance at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara chronicles two hundred years of uprisings in Central California, including the 1824 Chumash Revolt, and locates sites of resistance through painted and inlaid works created with hand-processed mineral and organic pigments of the Americas. Recovering the medicinal and esthetic uses of local plants and pigments enables her work to provide a space of healing and visual possibilities for current and historical traumas.

In her fourth solo exhibition, Rodriguez debuts Revolution & Resistance Mapa of Central Califas, a monumental biombo, or double-sided folding screen, featuring a map of resistance in the region and a nocturnal view of Santa Barbara from limuw (Santa Cruz Island). Created with hand-processed oil paint made from locally sourced earth pigments and inlaid with abalone shell, the luxurious maple wood biombo visualizes Indigenous opposition, challenging the seventeenth-century versions that extol colonial conquest. The exhibition includes other anti-colonial works, all painted on amate paper: Mapa de Califas—Atrocities, Isolation and Uprisings 2020–2021, recent wildfires recalling the pronósticos or omens recorded in sixteenth-century manuscripts by Indigenous artists, and portraits of botanicals from the Santa Barbara region that speak to Chumash knowledge of art and healing. The exhibition encourages visitors to reconsider the past and the present while interrogating dominant narratives.

Sandy Rodriguez (b. 1975, National City, California) is a Los Angeles-based Chicana artist and researcher 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. Rodriguez earned her BFA from California Institute of Arts. Her work is in the permanent collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, AR; Amon Carter Museum, TX; The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden, CA; Denver Art Museum, CO and other collections. She was awarded the 2023 Jacob Lawrence Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize, Caltech-Huntington Art + Research Residency, Creative Capital Award, and Migrations Initiative from Mellon Foundation’s Just Futures Initiative and Global Cornell.

Sandy Rodriguez — Unfolding Histories: 200 Years of Resistance is organized by the AD&A Museum. The exhibition is curated in collaboration with the artist by guest curator Sophia Quach McCabe, PhD.

On Friday, July 28, 5–7pm, Rosalena and Rodriguez will be in conversation at MCASB, offering a rare opportunity to hear the artists speak candidly to each other about their work. The talk is co-hosted by Lum Art Magazine.

The following day, Saturday, July 29, 12–2pm, join us at the AD&A Museum at UC Santa Barbara for an artist-led tour of the exhibition Sandy Rodriguez — Unfolding Histories: 200 Years of Resistance, followed by a reception with light refreshments.

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