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In an exhibition that originated at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art (MBMA), artists Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez came together for the first time in “Sorry for the Mess,” an exhibition of collaborative artwork about labor, childhood memories and life as first-generation Americans in the Southwest.
As a collaboration between the New Mexico State University Art Museum (UAM) and MBMA, this installation draws on key themes in the practices of both artists, merging a child’s imaginative experience with the adult realm of work and history.
The exhibition will be on display in the UAM’s Contemporary Gallery Jan. 21-March 17, 2021. (Installation of the show at UAM will begin in December, after “Labor: Motherhood & Art I 2020” closes Dec. 6.
The visual language of children’s television recurs throughout the show. Programs like “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and “Sesame Street” helped many of us form ideas about the world when we were young, and the artists draw on that familiar framework to connect such disparate subjects as the dolphins living in aquariums on the desert-bound Strip and the skeleton of the prehistoric ichthyosaur that used to lie at the center of the museum floor.
Playfully subverting our mental habit of blowing important objects up to huge proportions, Favela and Gomez create a giant landscape where the artifacts of “unseen” casino labor loom with the surreal monumentality of TV props. “Sorry for the Mess” is rooted in on-site observation, regional research and conversations with workers and families.
True to the humanistic ethos of both artists, construction of the installation focuses on handmade surfaces and widely available materials such as cardboard and colored paper. Parts of the work will be built for the NMSU Art Museum as Favela and Gomez invite students to join them in their process.
Favela is working on the commission that will be integrated into the exhibition to make it specific to Las Cruces. He also will create a virtual workshop in November, including pre-made art kits, similar to the kits for our OutsmART workshops this summer, with materials Favela will suggest so Las Cruces can make piñata-style paper desert garden sculptures inspired by Justin’s artwork. They also will be integrated into the January exhibit.
Known for large-scale installations and sculptures that manifest his interactions with American pop culture and the Latinx experience, Favela has exhibited his work both internationally and across the United States. His installations have been commissioned by the Denver Art Museum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
His latest major project, “Recuérdame,” will be on view at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling in New York City until Sept. 8. Favela hosts two culture-oriented podcasts, “Latinos Who Lunch” and “The Art People Podcast.” He graduated from the UNLV Department of Art with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2010, and he lives in Las Vegas.
Gomez, of Hollywood, California, uses the visibility of contemporary painting and sculpture to distinguish the workers whose everyday labor goes unrecognized by the society they serve. He focuses in particular on the lives of migrants in Los Angeles. Gomez’s work has been exhibited in institutions across the United States, among them the Smithsonian Portrait Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
A participant in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, his work was featured in three exhibitions of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, including LACMA’s important international group show, “Home — So Different, So Appealing.” Gomez studied at California Institute of the Arts.