18th Street Arts Center is pleased to present the exhibition Imaginary Dwellings curated by Marvella Muro and Natalie Godinez, and featuring the work of Ameeta Nanji, Dewey Tafoya, Jackie Amézquita, Lorain Khalil Rihan, Luciana Abait, Marianne Sadowski, Mustafa Ali Clayton, Naguals Press, Nansi Guevara, and Sovanchan Sorn. The exhibition also highlights works from the Self Help Graphics and Art archives, featuring Alvaro Marquez, Irwin Sanchez, Jesus Barraza, Karen Fiorito, Malaquias Montoya, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Pavel Acevedo, Raoul De La Sota, Sandra Fernandez, Votan Henriquez, Weshoyot Alvitre, and Zeke Peña. In addition, the 7 Print Project on Housing, produced by Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Self Help Graphics and Art, and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, is on view, highlighting the work of David John Attyah, Favianna Rodriguez, Garland Kirkpatrick/Helvetica Jones, Jerolyne Crute, Mark Young, Ricardo Mendoza, S.A. Bachman, and Weston Takeshi Teruya. This exhibition is on view in the Slipstream Galleries at 18th Street Arts Center’s Airport Campus (3026 Airport Ave. in Santa Monica) from July 25 – December 3, 2022.
Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday 12-5pm. Masks are required at all times. Walk ins are welcome, or you can make an appointment here.
Imaginary Dwellings includes works that address land rights, settler colonialism, forced displacement, and migration. The exhibition also demonstrates humanity’s adaptability, resistance, and perseverance through banners, posters, and ephemera created by community organizations and activists fighting for housing rights, which is a human right.
This exhibition addresses the systemic inequities that perpetuate housing insecurity for oppressed peoples. The concept of home is historically threatened by colonization, land rights, ethnic and racial displacement, and gentrification. Because of displacement, from country to country and even within the same city, many people search for a place to sow new roots. Moreover, communities with established roots are threatened and forcibly displaced due to racial or religious discrimination, land development, and gentrification, all of which keep the idea of home ephemeral for many.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Marvella Muro (she/her) is the Director of Artistic Programs and Education at Self Help Graphics and Art. Since joining in 2019, she has spearheaded the long-standing Professional Print Program, exhibitions and art initiatives, and SHG’s multifaceted art and education programs, including the Barrio Mobile Art Studio (BMAS). Marvella restructured its Artist in Residence program for LA-based multidisciplinary artists now called Beyond the Press. As the head of education, she launched a Youth Committee and the Creative Lab partnership with the neighboring high school.
She was formerly the Community Engagement Manager at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), developing and executing art programs and art projects with community partners in collaboration with various artists in Compton, North Hollywood, and East Los Angeles. Before joining the Education team, she had different curatorial roles at LACMA. She has a B.A. in Art History from Cal State University, Fullerton, and an M.A. in Arts Management from Goucher College in Maryland.
Natalie Godinez (she/her) is a mother, educator, artist, and community advocate raised in Tijuana, México. Natalie currently works doing advocacy, education, and cultural organization at Self Help Graphics and Art. Her artwork focuses on collaboration, textile work, and printmaking with themes of memory and its relationship to objects, place, and language. Her experience as an educator ranges from working with elementary-aged youth in public schools in Oakland, CA to working as a Teaching Artist for various organizations; including The New Children’s Museum (San Diego), First Five California (Bay Area), the Hammer Museum (LA), and the Mingei Museum (San Diego).
Previous to her current position, Godinez was the Community Outreach Manager for AMBOS Project (Art Made Between Opposite Sides), where she built relationships with artists, activists, and organizations focused on the US-México border. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Design from San Diego State University.
ABOUT THE FEATURED ARTISTS
Ameeta Nanji is an artist and human rights activist based in Los Angeles. Her practice includes creating collages, re-assembling, upcycling mixed media, text, textiles, and painting. Her most recent work is inspired by a trip to Lesvos Island, Greece in 2016, where she volunteered to assist refugees fleeing for their lives from war and violence in the Middle East. Nanji’s work synthesizes a critique about politics, technology, gender, and culture in the ongoing socio-economic struggle for the ‘ownership’ of the future. Her intention is for her work to encourage and provoke the viewer to question contemporary circumstances. Nanji passionately shares 18th Street Art Center’s mission and is excited to collaborate and participate with the institution and the community at large in enriching a vibrant, just, and healthy society through art.
Born in Nairobi of Gujerati origin, Nanji has exhibited in various solo and group exhibitions at Saray Gallery, London; Anne Laval Gallery, Venice, CA; and Gallery ARTPop, Downtown Los Angeles. She has also worked in the film industry as a set-decorator, music advisor, costume consultant, and title-graphic designer. She has co-authored three books including India Sublime, India Color, and South India A Mosaic (2008). Nanji has an Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Training Certificate, having studied at Krishnamacharya Mandiram, Chennai. Nanji holds a BA in Graphic Arts from Chelsea School of Art, London (1982).
Dewey Tafoya is a visual artist and screen printer born and raised in Los Angeles. His work is influenced by the urban landscapes, cultures, and communities of the barrios of Los Angeles (unceded Tongva territory). His work often deconstructs cultural and historical contexts learned from American popular culture and history to then reconstruct them through his experiences as a Chicano growing up in Los Angeles. He is currently the Master Printer & Assistant Director of the Professional Printmaking Program at Self Help Graphics and Art.
Tafoya has exhibited his work at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA), Art-Share LA, Self Help Graphics & Art, Gregorio Escalante Gallery, and the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA).
Jackie Amézquita was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and migrated to the United States in 2003. Based in Los Angeles, her practice is influenced by her family history of diaspora and her experiences as a formerly undocumented immigrant. Through durational performance, site-specificity, and materiality, creating a language that navigates socio-political relationships, Amézquita explores narratives of migration, mobility, and fluidity as fundamental aspects of all beings.
Amézquita has exhibited at The Armory of the Arts, Vincent Price Art Museum, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Fowler Museum, and Human Resources Los Angeles. They earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of California Los Angeles in 2022 and hold a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from ArtCenter College of Design and an Associate’s degree in Visual Communications from Los Angeles Valley College.
Lorain Khalil Rihan is a visual artist, storyteller, and educator living and working on occupied Kumeyaay land. Through printmaking, bookmaking, embroidery, and archiving, her work antagonizes the settler-colonial erasure of Palestine and is committed to the collective preservation of historic Palestine.
Luciana Abait is a Buenos Aires-born and Los Angeles-based artist and a current resident artist at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. Her photo-based two and three-dimensional works address climate change, environmental fragility, and their impacts on immigration.
Abait’s has exhibited internationally and extensively in Los Angeles. Selected exhibitions include A Letter to The Future at Los Angeles International Airport and Sur Biennial in California; Flow, Blue at Rockford College Art Museum and Luciana Abait at Jean Albano Gallery in Illinois; Nest at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania; and ARCO in Spain. She has also completed numerous commissions, including Vistas, a 24-foot mural commissioned by Miami-Dade Art in Public Places for Crandon Park Golf Course in Key Biscayne, Florida, in 2004. Abait’s works are held in private, public, and corporate collections from the United States, Europe, Latin America, and East Asia.
Marianne Sadowski is a Los Angeles-based visual artist and art educator born and raised in Mexico City. Her paintings, prints, mixed media works, and socially engaged art practice reflect her concern for social justice and humanity. Elements of nature are always present in her art and often work as symbols to convey the fine line of life itself.
Her art has been widely exhibited internationally, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, Mexico, The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, Museo de la Estampa, Mexico, Taller Boricua, New York, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, Texas, Los Angeles International Airport, Fullerton Museum, Forest Lawn Museum, El Camino College, SPARC, Self Help Graphics and Art, Scuola Internazionale de la Grafica, Venice, Italy, KuBaKulturbahnhof, Brandenburg, Germany among many others. She has a BA in Film from the Universidad Iberoamericana and an MFA from the Academy of San Carlos, both in Mexico City.
Mustafa Ali Clayton is an LA-based artist of African-American and French Canadian descent. Clayton’s practice was founded on traditional techniques and incorporates raw and experimental approaches to graffiti and street art, assemblage, and craftsmanship. Clayton currently focuses on history and lineage, including oil painting and quiltmaking and conceptual and figurative sculpture.
Clayton has exhibited nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Wilding Cran Gallery and Blumenfield Projects in Los Angeles. Clayton completed partial studies at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) but is primarily self-taught and continues to innovate new techniques to execute his evolving ideas.
Naguals Press is a collective of anonymous graphic designers, writers, photographers, and activists based in Los Angeles. “Nagual,” defined as a feared presence and/or a protector, encompasses many layers of culture and time. Depending on the region and landscape, its origin derives from an indigenous shape-shifter or trickster, usually a jaguar and sometimes a wolf. As colonialism spread, so did the meaning of a nagual. Per Carlos Castañeda’s description, the trickster opens and closes the doors of perception.
Nagual’s members are professionals in media arts working in advertising, using their skills to influence social issues. Creating more than a dozen campaigns since the late 90s, Naguals started with political topics that disenfranchise communities and continue into the present, where gentrification has decimated communities of color.
Naguals Press posters are curated by John Urquiza, photojournalist, local organizer, and artists from NELAA, the Northeast Los Angeles Alliance collective whose mission is “committed to witnessing and documenting the changing socio-economic landscape”. Naguals’ poster installation was funded by Andrew W. Mellon Arts and Technology Grant and supported by Occidental College Center for Community Based Learning. https://nagualpress.oxycreates.org/
Nansi Guevara is an illustrator and textile rasquache-based artist in Brownsville, Texas. Over the last decade, Nansi has created work that resists the racist and fragmented false narratives about Mexicans in Texas. Her work weaves the heart and soul of border culture with the harsh realities of women, immigration, and the commodification of Mexican labor.
She holds a bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Design from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University. She was a Fulbright García Robles Grantee in Mexico City (2011) and an Artplace America Grantee through the project Taller de Permiso (2017). Nansi has been awarded residencies, fellowships, & grants from the NEA, Artplace America, a Blade of Grass, NALAC, and the Santa Fe Art Institute.
Sovanchan Sorn is a second-generation Cambodian-American artist based in Los Angeles, CA. As a child of refugee parents, Sorn’s practice explores the dualities of her Cambodian-American identity. Her work addresses the effects of intergenerational trauma rooted in war and imperialism and the displacement of Southeast Asian Diasporas.
Sorn’s work has been in selected juried exhibitions for INSIGHTS at Kleefeld Contemporary, Gallery Platform LA, and has exhibited and participated in group shows at Torrance Art Museum, Marilyn Werby Gallery, Gatov Gallery, and Makerville. Sorn has participated in residencies and workshops at the Long Beach Museum of Art, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and UCLA’s Khmer Student Coalition Conference. Sorn earned her BFA (2017) from the California State University Long Beach School of Art.
This exhibition is generously supported by Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division, Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, California Community Foundation – LA Arts Fund, Mike Kelley Foundation, The Getty Foundation Marrow Internship Program, the Cultural Management grad program internship of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and 18th Street’s generous community of donors. The curators would like to give special thanks to Community Power Collective, Innercity Struggle, Eastside LEADS, Palestinian Youth Movement, Ramy Silyan, Sophia García, Priscilla Hernández, and Josiah O’Balles for allowing them to use their photographs, posters, and banners, as well as Self Help Graphics for loaning the prints from their archive for this exhibition.
ABOUT SELF HELP GRAPHICS & ART
Since its incorporation in 1973, SHG has produced more than 2,000 art print editions, including 54 atelier projects and exhibitions all over the world. The organization remains dedicated to the production, interpretation and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists; and its multidisciplinary intergenerational programs promote artistic excellence and empower community by providing access to working space, tools, training and beyond. Now, nearly a half-century later, SHG continues to foster emerging Chicana/o and Latinx artists through its world-class printmaking practice and supports the role of artists as leaders, both within its organization and the community. For more information, visit www.selfhelpgraphics.com.