The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art exhibition Face to Face: Ken Gonzales-Day
Ken Gonzales-Day Examines the History of Race and Representation
The Claremont Lewis Museum of Art exhibition Face to Face: Ken Gonzales-Day will present the unflinching and innovative photography of artist Ken Gonzales-Day. A Scripps College art professor since 1995, Gonzales-Day has been exploring the history of race and its representation for over two decades. This exhibition juxtaposes two overlapping bodies of work, Pandemic Portraits and Profiled, to confront our often unexamined modes of seeing.
The exhibition, curated by Seth Pringle, begins with the Pandemic Portraits series which Gonzales-Day began producing during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The portraits are mostly of artists, actors, arts professionals, dancers, models, and writers. Gonzales-Day operated within the limits of social distancing protocols in order to create connections, some with old friends, some new. The resulting images may only feature a single subject, but they represent a commitment to co-existence. The second body of work, entitled Profiled, features photographs taken in the storage facilities of the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and National Portrait Gallery in 2014 as a critical examination of the ways that beauty, race, and human difference were seen in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This research-based photographic project demonstrates a critical approach to history and suggests the importance of reconsidering these often-contested objects and the legacies from which they came. These two bodies of work come face to face through two distinguished members of the Osage Nation. Dr. Steven Pratt’s 2022 portrait will be displayed adjacent to a photograph of a bust depicting his great grandfather Shonke Mon-thi^, a sculpture held in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. The meeting of these two photographic projects and these two cultural leaders/ancestors brings into focus the power of portraiture and its complex, often fraught, relationship with American history.
Ken Gonzales-Day is a Los Angeles based artist whose interdisciplinary practice considers the historical construction of race and the limits of representational systems ranging from lynching photographs to museum displays. His widely exhibited Erased Lynching series (ongoing), along with the publication of Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 (Duke University Press, 2006) transformed the understanding of racialized violence in the United States and raised awareness of the lynching of Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and African-Americans in California and helped to ground anti-immigration and collective acts of violence within the larger discussion of racial formation, policing, and racial justice movements.
Works from the Profiled series have been exhibited internationally and grew out of research into the history of racial depiction found in historic expositions and educational museum displays from the Field Museum in Chicago, The Trocadero Museum in Paris, and the 1915-1916 California-Panama Exposition in San Diego, to name a few.
Gonzales-Day received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, an MFA from the University of California Irvine, an MA from Hunter College in NYC, and was a Van Lier Fellow in the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. Gonzales-Day holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College and serves on the Board of Directors for L.A.C.E., Los Angeles and on the Advisory Board for the Archives of American Art Journal. He is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.
His work has been widely exhibited including, LAXART, The Getty, The Skirball, LACMA, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; The Tamayo and the Museum of the City in Mexico City; The Palais de Tokyo in Paris; The New Museum, The Kitchen, Jack Shainmann, and El Museo del Barrio in NYC; Generali Foundation, Vienna, Thomas Dane Gallery in London, among others. Gonzales-Day has received awards from the California Community Foundation, COLA, Creative Capital, Avery, and Art Matters. Fellowships include, The Rockefeller foundation in Bellagio, Italy; The Terra Foundation in Giverny; The Getty GRI; Smithsonian SARF and SAAM fellowships; and he received a Guggenheim in Photography in 2017. For more information about Ken Gonzales-Day go to www.kengonzalesday.com.
The exhibition will offer an immersive display of photography for visitors of all ages. The Pandemic Portraits series will include large scale color photography while the Profiled series will feature mostly photography of sculptures in bronze and stone.