January 29, 2020

Chemi Rosado-Seijo
Communities in Motion/Comunidades en Movimiento

Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery at Georgetown University

Chemi Rosado-Seijo, 2019. Photo courtesy of Brian Canavan.

Georgetown University is pleased to present Chemi Rosado-Seijo: Communities in Motion/Comunidades en Movimiento, the first solo exhibition on the mainland of Rosado-Seijo (American b. 1973, lives San Juan), a celebrated voice in the field of social practice. Known for orchestrating lasting interventions and creative collaborations in his native Puerto Rico and around the world, Rosado-Seijo is equal parts artist and community organizer. He makes art objects and makes a difference. Photographs and a new film document nearly 20 years of his socially engaged projects in and around San Juan. Additionally on view will be new paintings, video, collage, and sculpture made in partnership with Washingtonians. These new works illustrate the link between Rosado-Seijo’s two great passions: contemporary art and skateboarding.

The exhibition ̶spanning both the Maria & Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery and the Lucille M. & Richard F. X. Spagnuolo Art Gallery ̶charts the development of Rosado-Seijo’s increasingly ambitious site-specific projects starting with his first public intervention, 2000’s El Trampolín. He illegally installed a diving board on San Juan’s historic Hermanos Bridge where swimmers have long gathered. The diving board is what he calls an act of “hyperrealism,” meant to amplify an existing cultural phenomenon. The Spagnuolo Gallery is dedicated to Rosado-Seijo’s most sweeping project to date: El Cerro. El Cerro is a low-income neighborhood nestled in the lush Naranjito hillside south of San Juan. Rosado-Seijo first approached residents in 2002 offering to paint their houses green for free, which would integrate the architecture into the countryside. Residents joined the effort. Over 100 houses in various shades form what Rosado-Seijo ̶who has a degree in painting ̶considers a massive mural. The project kicked off an ongoing relationship. A museum, a community center, and workshops taught by a variety of volunteers are just some of the subsequent initiatives in El Cerro.

Rosado-Seijo has been an avid skateboarder since high school. In 2006, he teamed up with volunteers and community members to build a “bowl,” a skateboarding structure, on the beach in San Juan’s La Perla barrio. La Perla’s Bowl, represented by photographs in the exhibition, is now used by skateboarders and is at other times flooded to serve as a community pool. Since then he has connected with communities of skaters in cities across the globe. He began visiting Washington, DC in 2018 in conjunction with this exhibition, and quickly connected with the city’s network of skaters and artists. New works in a variety of mediums were made in the DC metro area – including on Georgetown University’s campus—with a diverse group of local collaborators. Surface panels removed from a skate ramp he helped build locally form a new “painting.” The wheels of countless skateboards made the marks, which Rosado-Seijo collectively equates to the abstract compositions of painters Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly. All of these works bear the traces of Rosado-Seijo’s art historical influences, the frenetic physicality of skateboarding, and the unique contributions of many new friends including accomplished DC artist, Ben Ashworth.

The exhibition and related programs support Georgetown University’s long-standing commitment to community engagement and inspiring change. Chemi Rosado-Seijo: Communities in Motion/Comunidades en Movimiento is the first exhibition at the Georgetown University Art Galleries to feature wall text and labels in both English and Spanish.

The exhibition will open with a public reception on January 29 from 6 to 8pm. The first public program will be a dialogue between Rosado-Seijo and Washington, DC collaborator Ben Ashworth on January 30 at 6pm. Details on further programs are listed on the gallery’s website.

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