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UC San Diego Exhibition Features Work by 7 Leading International Women Artists

Shown together for the first time, exhibition represents historical significance of university’s Department of Visual Arts

Antin's 100 Boots at the Checkpoint
Eleanor Antin, "100 Boots at the Checkpoint" (1972), photograph. (Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Gallery)


  • Anthony King

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  • Anthony King

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Presented together for the first time, seven internationally recognized artists are featured in the UC San Diego exhibition “Stories That We Tell: Art and Identity,” celebrating those who paved the way for greater inclusion by inventing new means to address issues of race and gender.

The seven artists — Eleanor Antin, Barbara Kruger, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Miriam Schapiro, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems — have all been honored with major exhibitions at leading museums, recognized with prestigious awards and are all representative of the university’s Department of Visual Arts.

“This exhibition is a culmination of the ‘Visual Arts @ 50’ series, which looks at the history of the department, and how our artists have shaped and contributed to art as it is today. It is the most complex in the series, on account of the stature and renown of the artists: former faculty members and their students, who we are proud to call alumni,” said Department of Visual Arts chair Jack Greenstein. “We’ve not had a show bringing together such well-known artists at the height of their fame in the gallery before.”

The exhibition is open through March 3 at the UC San Diego University Art Gallery. Tatiana Sizonenko, an art historian and Ph.D. alumna from the department, curated the show.

“The multi-layered narratives of the ‘Stories That We Tell’ not only construct their identities as artists and individuals but speak more pointedly to what it is to be female and to be black in our society,” Sizonenko said. “Through their works and teaching, these UC San Diego artists have inspired a generation by helping forge a new aesthetic inclusive of the stories and experiences of artists from ever-more diverse backgrounds.”


Carrie Mae Weems, "KNEW, NOT FROM MEMORY, BUT FROM HOPE, THAT THERE WERE OTHER MODELS BY WHICH TO LIVE" from "Not Manet's Type" (1997), photograph. (Courtesy of the artist)

In conjunction with the exhibition, Rosler will be on campus Monday, Feb. 26 at 4:30 p.m. for a lecture and discussion about her work and artistic experience. Employing multiple mediums including photography, video, performance and writing, Rosler often focuses on the public sphere, exploring issues ranging from everyday life and the media to architecture and the built environment, especially as they affect women.

Now living in New York City, Rosler received her MFA from UC San Diego in 1974. Her solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 2012 was a reinvention and expansion of a concept she explored at UC San Diego in 1973.

Antin, a conceptual artist and professor emeritus, attended the opening reception Jan. 18 and recounted memories of 30 years on campus, including serving as graduate advisor to Weems. Weems received her MFA in 1984 and is a 2013 MacArthur Foundation fellow.

“From the beginning we were known as a very advanced and experimental department,” Antin said. “We were only concerned with inventing, experimenting and surprising ourselves, as well as everybody else.”

The exhibition features important and historic pieces by the artists, some for the first time in San Diego. On view in the gallery:

  • Eleanor Antin’s rare installation “The Nurse and the Hijackers” (1977), as well as a little-seen selection of photographs from “100 Boots” (1971 – 1973) series,
  • Carrie Mae Weems’ photo-text series “Not Manet’s Type” (1997),
  • Lorna Simpson’s installation “Details” (1996),
  • Barbara Kruger’s epic “You Substantiate Our Horror” (1985),
  • Faith Ringgold’s hand-stenciled quilt “Seven Passages to a Flight” (1995),
  • Miriam Schapiro’s “Black Window” (1972) and large-scale collage “Natalia” (1986), and
  • Martha Rosler’s postcard novel “Tijuana Maid” (1975) and video installations “Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained” (1977) and “Know Your Servant Series, No. 1: North American Waitress, Coffee Shop Variety” (1977).

“Today, there is an expectation that art tackles difficult issues, including diversity, inequality and the need for social change. It is easy to forget how much people put themselves on the line to do work like this,” Greenstein said. “The work presented in this exhibition is certainly very courageous and, I think, very beautiful.”


Martha Rosler, "Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained" (1977), film still. (Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash Gallery)

Stories That We Tell: Art and Identity” is the featured 2017 – 2018 exhibition of the “Art into Life: Visual Arts @ 50” anniversary series. From its foundation in 1967, the Department of Visual Arts, within the UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities, has been at the forefront of expanding the boundaries of art. “Art into Life” is a two-year program of exhibitions and events celebrating the contributions of department faculty, alumni and students to making art the exciting and diverse field it is today.

The exhibit is organized in partnership with the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Museum of Photographic Arts, UC San Diego Library Special Collections & Archives, Electronic Arts Intermix and the following fine art galleries: Eric Firestone Gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, and Ronald Feldman Gallery.

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