The Brown Project : disruption as a form of agency in Rafa Esparza’s Adobe Works

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2022-05-09

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Susholtz, Alexandra

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Much has been written about the artist rafa esparza’s performance practice, his adobe sculptures, and adobe-built environments. However, there is less scholarship on his more recent adobe portraits. This project will consider a selection of his performances and adobe installations in conjunction with his later adobe portraits. I argue that esparza’s adobe practice is a disruptive force within the institutions it is exhibited. The disruptive qualities can be ascertained by examining his collaborative process and understanding the materiality of adobe and what it represents. Also importantly, the adobe works, including the adobe portraits, are expressions of esparza’s autonomy and agency. This thesis will closely look at esparza’s contribution to the Hammer Museum’s 2016 Made in L.A. survey, his work in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, and his 2019 staring at the sun solo exhibition at MASS MoCA to understand the ways in which esparza delineates a queer, brown, postcolonial perspective with adobe.

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