Caleb Duarte Piñon

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Caleb Duarte Piñon migrated from the northern states of Mexico to the farming communities of Central California. He began to paint at an early age, beginning his studies at Fresno City College and continuing at the San Francisco Art Institute and at the Graduate Sculpture department of the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been reviewed in the Los Angeles Times, Art LTD magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, SPARK public television, and others. He has exhibited his work at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Red Dot Art Fair in New York, The Sullivan Galleries in Chicago, Gallery 727 Los Angeles, The California Museum of Art in Oakland, the Fresno Art Museum and others. He is represented by Jack Fisher Gallery in San Francisco. Duarte has created public works and community performances at the World Social Forum in Mumbai, India; Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; El Pital, Honduras; Mexico City, Mexico and throughout out the US. Duarte is co-founder of an experimental artist residency and events space in Chiapas, Mexico that invites participants of diverse practices to live and create within a period of time. Residents range from PhDs to jugglers, contemporary artists, activists, educators, rural farmers, and community members of autonomous communities of rural Chiapas. Duarte is Artistic Director in Rotation for the Red Poppy Art House in San Francisco.

Artist Statement

Duarte co-founded with Mia Eve Rollow EDELO (En Donde Era La ONU), an art space and international artist residency located in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico that prioritizes experimentation, inclusiveness, and social change inspired by Zapatista communities and the Black Panther party. The temporal installation for Making a Scene is a co-production of EDELO and the Red Poppy Art House, where both Duarte and Rollow are Artistic Directors in Rotation continuing the tradition of the Red Poppy Art House as a leading nest for creative visual and musical movements within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Exhibited Work

For Making a Scene, Caleb Duarte, Mia Eve Rollow, and Ramiro Martinez construct a slab of cement and bury day labor workers underneath a monument that seems to be both a ladder and flag pole holding the confederate flag. The "monument," as projected by our institutional structures, is created to remind us of "who we are" while distancing our understanding of our past and present histories.

The current national debate over the meaning of the confederate flag serves as a prominent background as a way to confront the realities of a globalization in relationship to global migration, the prison industry, immigrant prison camps, and US notions of exceptionalism as manifested through aggressive actions of US imperialism. While the confederate flag for some is a symbol of violence and white supremacy and for others hangs in State Capitals as an identifier of southern heritage and cultural pride, we use this symbol to identify the complexities of a distant national memory in the face of a boiling temperature in regards to race and economic inequality within a society experiencing historical amnesia.

This installation and performance illustrate both the fragility and strength that the body represents in the face of such power structures and challenges the public to recognize the histories buried beneath ALL of our national and local monuments.

Dirt on the Floors

Performance installation
Dimension varies

About this Article

This article was originally created as part of SOMArts Cultural Center's Making a Scene: 50 Years of Alternative Bay Area Spaces. To learn how to add or edit content please visit the Bay Area Society for Art & Activism's online History Collection Lab.