En Foco/In Focus: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection of En Foco at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)
En Foco/In Focus, the first permanent photography collection in the country dedicated to U.S. based artists of Latin American, African, Asian, and Native American heritage, opens for the first time on the West Coast on January 22, 2013 at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).
"This collection is profoundly important." says Deirdre Visser, arts curator at CIIS. "The artists and works, dating from the 70s to today, represent the pluralism of voices within contemporary lens-based media. These artists include some of the most innovative figures in contemporary U.S. art. We're particularly proud to host this exhibition because it closely mirrors the vision and commitment of our CHROMA program."
The exhibition is comprised of fifty-six striking images by forty-eight different artists. Though diverse in approach and content, together they tell a powerful story, both local and universal.
The earliest works in the exhibition date to the 1970s and 80s. They reflect the documentary impulse that characterized photographic work produced during and immediately after the civil rights era. "In contrast to photographic essays of the period exposing inner-city decay, these were images by individuals who lived in and understood the rhythms of life in these neighborhoods. Cultural representation became self-representation, as the camera became a potent means of political and self-expression," writes Elizabeth Ferrer, exhibition curator.
The second part of the exhibition reflects the multicultural discourse of the 1990s, and the impulse to use photography to examine identity (racial, ethnic, sexual, gender-based), otherness, and the social and cultural contexts that shape perspectives on the self. The final part of this exhibition looks at work produced since the turn of the twenty-first century. The youngest photographers represented in the collection mirror the contemporary art scene's global landscape. The current generation of photographers draw from multiple photographic traditions and creative modes.