Rodrigo Valenzuela in solo exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History 10.27.18

Lay of the Land: Rodrigo Valenzuela. November 2, 2018 – February 17, 2019


What does it feel like to be an immigrant in a new place? What do you do when the lay of the land is unfamiliar?

Dive into disorienting landscapes in this installation of photography, painting, and video by Chilean-born artist Rodrigo Valenzuela.

The materials and methods he uses to create his artwork speak to his experience as an immigrant. He uses themes like soccer and the landscape to explore complex ideas around isolation and displacement.

The landscapes and autobiographical narratives inform larger themes of alienation and displacement. His images feel at the same time familiar yet distant. Except these paintings document a place that doesn’t exist. A new landscape made up of images from the deserts of California and Chile. Rodrigo pieces these fragmented landscapes together as a way of processing his experience of immigrating to the US.

Rodrigo photocopies and layers multiple images onto a single canvas using a toothbrush. He uses chalk and paint to fill the landscape with lines and shapes. These shapes hint at the memory of fallen structures and forecast future developments on the land. Rodrigo’s work questions the ways in which the formation and experience of each work is situated—how they exist both in and out of place.

“I construct narratives, scenes, and stories which point to the tensions found between the individual and communities.”

Rodrigo Valenzuela Rodrigo immigrated to the US from Chile and worked for years as a day laborer before becoming established as a professional artist. When Rodrigo first came to the United States from Chile, he had sixty dollars in his pocket. He spent years working under-the-table construction and landscaping jobs. He also went to art school.

“Ten years ago, I was waiting for work at Home Depot — working construction and for moving companies — and now I’m a permanent resident, a green card holder, a professor at UCLA.” – Rodrigo Valenzuela

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