by Jordan Karney Chaim September 12, 2021
Decades of entrenched art-world racism, gender bias, and resistance to overtly political displays in art have delayed a comprehensive treatment of Baca’s career until now.
LONG BEACH, Calif. — For 50 years Los Angeles-based artist Judy Baca has been creating sites of public memory. Through her collaborative murals, multimedia art, and teaching she has redefined what it means to work at the intersection of art and activism. Now, for the first time, you can visit a retrospective exhibition that celebrates her impressive career.
Judy Baca: Memorias de Nuestra Tierra, a Retrospective, on view at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach through January 2022, is co-curated by MOLAA chief curator Gabriela Urtiaga and guest curator Alessandra Moctezuma, the gallery director at San Diego Mesa College, who came to know Baca as her painting assistant in the 1990s. While Baca is best known for her large-scale public murals, this exhibition highlights the expansiveness of her practice, bringing together more than 120 works in a range of media including painting, sculpture, installation, and a series of intimate works on paper that have never been publicly shown.
Eschewing the white box, as Baca has done throughout her career, the curators painted the galleries various shades of red, blue, and yellow, and the convictions that once kept Baca out of the mainstream art world — her entrenchment in community activism, collaborative practice, and commitment to amplifying marginalized voices — are what give this presentation its undeniable power. Despite the importance of Baca’s work, and her influence on a generation of students as a professor in the Cal State and University of California systems, decades of entrenched art-world racism, gender bias, and resistance to overtly political displays in art have delayed a comprehensive treatment of her career until now.[…]