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Amalia Mesa-Bains Biography
October 27, 2015 - Galería de la Raza, Galería de la Raza

Galería de la Raza

Sacred Cartographies: The Art of Amalia Mesa-Bains



Artist Bio

Amalia Mesa-Bains is an educator, artist and cultural critic. Her works, primarily interpretations of traditional Chicano altars, resonate both in contemporary formal terms and in their ties to her Chicano community and history. As an author of scholarly articles and a nationally known lecturer on Chicano art, her work has enhanced understanding of multi-culturalism and reflected major cultural and demographic shifts in the United States. Throughout her cross-disciplinary career, she has worked to define a Chicano and Latino aesthetic in the U.S. and in Latin America. She has pioneered the documentation and interpretation of long standing Chicano traditions in Mexican-American art, both through her cultural activism and through her own altar-installations.  Her writings are often required readings in Chicano Studies, Latino Art History and in Feminist Art university curricula. Her book, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism, with bell hooks, is an interethnic dialogue used in both Chicano and black studies. 

As an artist, her works have been exhibited and collected in both national and international venues including the Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, the Whitney Museum of American Art at Phillip Morris, the Museo del Barrio, the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Williams College Museum, the Queens Museum in New York, the Contemporary Exhibition Center of Lyon, France, the Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Sweden, The Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Ireland, and the Culterforgenin in Copenhagen, Denmark,.

As a community advocate, she has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Board of Directors for both Galería de la Raza, where she created the ongoing Regeneration Project and the Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens. She has developed public art projects with Center for Community Advocacy in Salinas as well as community based projects in Watsonville, Monterey and Seaside, California. She received her BA (1966) from San Jose State College, her MA (1971) from San Francisco State University, an M. A. (1981) and Ph.D. (1983) in psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley. The Association of American Cultures, The Association of Hispanic Artists, San Francisco State University Alumni, Stanford University Ernesto Galarza Award, and the University of Texas at Austin Americo Paredes Award are among those that have presented her with special achievement awards. She is a recipient of a distinguished MacArthur Fellowship. She founded and developed the Visual and Public Art program at California State University at Monterey Bay and is currently Professor Emerita at the university.

Lorriane García-Nakata-Artist Headshot
September 6, 2015

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