RODRIGO VALENZUELA: FRONTIERS

August 26 – October 14

Artist Lecture: August 25, 7 pm (ACB 310)
Opening Reception: August 26, 5-7:30 pm

Rodrigo Valenzuela

Image: Rodrigo Valenzuela, Sense of Place No. 3, 2016. Toner, acrylic, chalk on canvas, 53 x 70 in. Collection of Zach Huntting.

Rodrigo Valenzuela: Frontiers features the work of Chilean-born, Houston-based artist Rodrigo Valenzuela. The exhibition marks the artist's foray into painting, building off of earlier photographic work for which he is known, and also includes two video works that address issues of labor and migration. The notion of the frontier, long mythologized in the United States through the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, transcends into more nebulous, global territory in this exhibition. Venturing into uncharted lands in search of something greater is a thrilling yet alienating experience. Inherent to this journey is the role of labor and construction in the broadest sense—the way we fabricate dreams of a better future to the very real work required to get there.

The Spanish word for "frontier," la frontera, is most commonly used to refer to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Featured in the exhibition are two video works that humanize and make visible the "invisible labor," as Valenzuela calls the manual labor often performed by immigrants and people of color. The exhibition will also showcase Valenzuela's new image-transfer paintings that present fragmented, barren landscapes spliced with geometric forms. They are amalgamations of the many places the artist has lived and visited, evoking a sense of being the first to inhabit a foreign, empty land.

Central to the ethos of the exhibition is a collaborative installation called MDF (2016) created by Valenzuela and a team of undergraduate students from The University of Memphis Department of Art. Tying into the Fogelman Galleries' identity as a teaching gallery, Valenzuela will introduce students to image transfer techniques and other aspects of his process during his week-long visit to Memphis. Together, their efforts will result a new landscape made by the hands of many.

Additionally, Valenzuela will give a public lecture on Thursday, August 25 at 7 pm in Room 310 in the Art and Communications Building, located at 3715 Central Avenue. An opening reception will be held the following day on Friday, August 26 from 5-7:30 pm in the Fogelman Galleries. The reception will also celebrate the opening of the exhibition Infoxication: Ruben Garnica.

Rodrigo Valenzuela (b. 1982, Santiago, Chile) completed an art history degree at the University of Chile (2004), then worked in construction while making art over his first decade in the United States, completing an MFA at University of Washington in 2012. Using staged scenes and digital interventions, Valenzuela's photography, video and installation work is rooted in the contradictory traditions of documentary and fiction, often involving narratives around immigration and the working class.

Valenzuela's residencies include a Core Fellowship at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Texas), Skowhegan (Maine), Bemis Center (Nebraska), and the Center for Photography at Woodstock (New York). Valenzuela is recipient of several awards, including an Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award (2014). Recent solo exhibitions include David Shelton Gallery, Houston (2016), the Frye Art Museum, Seattle (2015), Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2015), envoy enterprises, NewYork (2015) and Upfor Gallery, Portland, OR (2015). His work is in the collections of the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz; the de Bont collection and Dimensional Fund Advisors. Valenzuela is selected for the 2016-17 Open Sessions at The Drawing Center, New York.