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The cultural geography of artist Amalia Mesa-Bains

Posted on July 9, 2018 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The exhibition “Private Landscapes and Public Territories: Botanicals, Archives and Libraries in the Work of Amalia Mesa-Bains,” is now on view at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. The gallery show, a collection of altars, installations, maps and folding books, runs through September 16.

“Amalia Mesa-Bains’ large installation work, incorporating Chicano culture and folk traditions, is a natural and dynamic engagement with Sonoma’s multicultural ​community,” said Linda Keaton, the museum’s executive director. “Her pioneering work is accessible, moving, and at times, even mystical.”

The themes of family geographies and historical displacements of Latino and native peoples are represented through border maps, archival images and native plants. These narratives of human geography, Keaton said, suggest how private landscapes have always been part of larger public territories, domains beset by change, loss and memory.

Amalia Mesa-Bains’ landscape installation, “The Garden of Cihuatlampa.”
Amalia Mesa-Bains’ landscape installation, “The Garden of Cihuatlampa.”

Mesa-Bains – artist, educator, writer, cultural critic, activist – was born in Santa Clara, the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents. The winner of a MacArthur “Genius” grant in 1992, she remains the only Chicana artist ever to receive the prize.

“We are thrilled to present the groundbreaking art of this nationally and internationally renowned artist,” Keaton said.

The opening reception will be held on Saturday, June 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. and is open to the public. SVMA Members get in free, general admission is $10.

The museum is located at 551 Broadway. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults. Children K–12 are admitted free, as are SVMA members. 707.939.7862. Svma.org.



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