Cal State Northridge Exhibition Challenges Self Perception

'Mother and Child,' Sandra de la Loza

‘Mother and Child,’ Sandra de la Loza

The Art Galleries at California State University, Northridge is hosting a new exhibition that asks the question: What do you see when you look at yourself and the world around you?

Curated by CSUN art history professor Mario Ontiveros, the exhibition, “This is Not a Self Portrait: Reflections on Erasure, Solidarity and Belonging,” focuses on eight Los Angeles-based artists who reconfigure the genre of self-portraiture. The artists examine a range of topics, including photography and power; monsters and fantasy; migration and labor; the abject and the humorous; intolerance and acceptance; love and bare vulnerability; and collectivity and collaboration.

“The exhibition was inspired by contemporary LA artists,” Ontiveros said. “While looking at their recent videos, sculptural forms, paintings, installations, and photographs, I became interested in how they drew upon the genre of self-portraiture though they seemed to veer away from focusing exclusively on themselves as the subject of their work. Instead, they used their likeness, their bodies and the intimately personal to investigate subjectivity as multi-constructed. Their work examined the formation of the self in a social context.”

The artists include Michael Alvarez, Yreina D. Cervántez, Christina Fernandez, CSUN Chicano/a studies professor Harry Gamboa, Jr., Sandra de la Loza, Shizu Saldamando, Ana Serrano and Mario Ybarra, Jr.

“The exhibition brings together several generations of artists who reconfigure the genre of self-portraiture,” said Ontiveros. “While each grapples with the complicated and often conflicted project of self-imagining, they do not always identify with a notion of the self-portrait as a site uniquely suited for self-reflection, self-analysis, or even self-adulation. Instead, each transforms the discourse around and the formal practice of self-portraiture to address pressing aesthetic, ethical, and geopolitical challenges of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

“The exhibition provides an opportunity for viewers to examine how artists working in diverse forms, conceptual approaches, and methodologies employ self-resemblance and the intimately personal to engage the urgencies of everyday life, affirm desires, engender solidarity, and create a sense of belonging,” he said.

For more information, contact the CSUN Art Galleries at (818) 677-2156 or visit its website at The exhibition runs through March 29. The exhibition runs through March 29 and there will be a panel discussion with the artists on Saturday March 22 at 1 p.m.

Cal State Northridge’s Art Galleries are located on Plummer Street east of Etiwanda Avenue.

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