June 19, 2010

Re-Imagining Orozco

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design
Enrique Chagoya in his studio working on drawings for Re-Imagining
Courtesy of Enrique Chagoya.

The New School Art Collection and the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons present Re-Imagining Orozco, a multimedia exhibition exploring the legacy of influential Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco’s mural cycle, A Call to Revolution and Table of Universal Brotherhood, at The New School. Coinciding with the Bicentennial of the Mexican Revolution, the exhibition will run from June 25-September 12, 2010 at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, June 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Curated by Silvia Rocciolo and Eric Stark, curators of the New School Art Collection, the exhibition features new work by visiting artist Enrique Chagoya as well as contributions from students from across The New School. Chagoya, a Mexican-born American artist who teaches at Stanford University, will present new work that responds to the Orozco murals and serves as a catalyst for their contemporary discussion. The Orozco murals, one of the most important works in the New School Art Collection, are one of the few remaining examples of Orozco’s work outside of Mexico and the only public commission by a Mexican muralist left in New York City.”Chagoya’s work, which combines printmaking, collage and caricature, is rife with humor and presents a searing commentary on everything from racial policy to political aesthetics that cut to the core of this country’s limitations and excesses,” said curators Rocciolo and Stark. “And Chagoya’s affinity with Orozco is well known, making his participation in this project pivotal.”

Students from across The New School are contributing a series of new works to the exhibition, all inspired by the Orozco murals. From the Parsons design and technology program, students are creating a short, animated film on The Table of the Universal Brotherhood, one of the utopian panels of the mural cycle with contributions from the New School for Social Research, the New School for Drama and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. The Illustration program has used Orozco as the theme for their printmaking curriculum. Chagoya will assemble a codex for the exhibition from the final prints produced by the illustration students. The campus organization Lang College Public Art Squad has created a historic and utopian timeline, while Parsons Product Design students have built a satirical gift shop that critiques the expanding role of merchandising in museum exhibitions.

“The exhibition exposes the rich aesthetic vein in The New School’s history as an educational laboratory,” said Radhika Subramaniam, Director of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons. “Linking the curriculum to an adventurous, politically engaged art practice, it encapsulates our mission to continually blur the divide between the classroom and the gallery.”

Together with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siquieros, Orozco is considered one of the “big three” Mexican muralists. Their work inspired the WPA (Works Progress Administration) movement as well as the early development of the abstract expressionists in the United States. Commissioned by New School for Social Research founder Alvin S. Johnson for Joseph Urban’s landmark building at 66 West 12th Street, the New School’s Orozco murals reflected the university’s founding mission as a laboratory for cross-disciplinary thinking and civic engagement.

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