March 13 – March 16
Curator: Andrea Zambrano
Artists: Taryn Marie DeLeon Mendiola, Alston Watson

This exhibition highlights the artistic practices of Taryn Marie DeLeon Mendiola and Alston Watson.  Both artists discuss their personal experiences in their work. Their concepts include identity, displacement, race, and culture.  Both are interested in bringing their ideas into the world utilizing non-traditional materials. Their practices transcend various planes of comprehension, and their voices represent not only their narratives, but also their need to declare an autonomy of identity through what they create.

DeLeon Mendiola honors culture, tradition, spirituality, and the morphing of gender in her work.  DeLeon Mendiola is a member of the Chamorro, the indigenous peoples of Guam.  Having grown up mostly in the U.S mainland, she learned about her heritage and the complex history of her people through the passing down of traditions, family stories and oral history.  This includes the Chamorro peoples’ colonization by multiple nations throughout the past several centuries and their most recent annexation as a territory of the U.S. Her Chamorro heritage is a major catalyst for DeLeon Mendiola’s artistic practice, as she utilizes traditional Chamorro patterns in many of her pieces.  

Alston Watson is a mixed media artist who has departed from the more traditional avenues of artmaking.  Rather than painting or sculpture, Watson makes music videos and comics, both of which are idealized representations of his own upbringing.  He reimagines his own experiences through the development of original characters and narratives. Using inspiration from his love of house music, 1980s nightclub aesthetics and Japanese anime and manga, Watson creates narratives heavily based on his life but with fantastical twists.  At the same time, Watson comments on race relations and identity in the U.S. in both his comics and moving image based work.

S E L F, the title of this exhibition is what manifests when artists like DeLeon Mendiola and Watson confront their personal historical narratives with the intention of elevating their own artistic perspectives through such an exploration. Not only do they honor and confront familial, racial, and traditional nuances from the complex histories of Chamorro and Black identities, they also take on the autonomy to mould and shape their identities along the way.

Artist Alston Watson

Artist Taryn Marie DeLeon Mendiola

From left to right: artist Taryn Marie DeLeon Mendiola, curator Andrea Zambrano, artist Alston Watson

Photos by A. Leonardo Amiri