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Enrique Martínez Celaya | The Huntington Library

Enrique Martínez Celaya working on There-bound at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Joshua Light /

"A portion of The Huntington's American art collection is contextualized with contributions from contemporary artists in “Borderlands,” a new permanent collections installation that explores a more expansive view of American art history. To develop the reinstallation, The Huntington partnered with two contemporary artists, Enrique Martínez Celaya (2020–22 Huntington Fellow in the Visual Arts) and Sandy Rodriguez (2020–21 Caltech-Huntington Art + Research Fellow), and secured strategic loans to help re-imagine the historical collections from multiple perspectives.

The new installation is spread over 5,000 square feet of gallery space, and highlights more than 70 works, including paintings, sculptures, decorative art objects, and video installations. It highlights artwork that dates from the 19th through the early 20th century, including works by such renowned artists as Mary Cassatt, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer. But, unlike previous installations, “Borderlands” is organized thematically. It also features an education room, where visitors can learn about locally sourced botanical- and mineral-based pigments.

A thematic anchor in the exhibition is an 8-foot-by-8-foot watercolor painted by Los Angeles–based artist Sandy Rodriguez. For the work, Rodriguez is using locally sourced pigments and colorants, derived from mineral and organic sources, and 23-karat gold applied to amate paper, a native fig-bark paper that was traditionally used in Mexico but outlawed by the Spanish in the 16th century. Rodriguez’s YOU ARE HERE / Tovaangar / El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula / Los Angeles will be a multilingual map of the greater Los Angeles area, representing the topography, language, flora, fauna, and land stewardship in the region over time and illustrating the movement and histories of peoples who have called—and continue to call—the area home.

Enrique Martínez Celaya’s There-Bound is another highlight of the exhibition, painted on the massive glass façade of the Scott Galleries’ north entrance. It depicts migratory birds winging across the building’s front windows. Martínez Celaya’s project, like the exhibition as a whole, seeks to link the inside of the galleries with the outside, building on the famous landscapes and living collections at The Huntington." 

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