September 16, 2019


Santa Ana, CA (September 2019) —The Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) announced today that it will present six new exhibitions of works by artists from the Pacific Rim, all of which consider the complexities of our relationship to the natural world. On view from September 21, 2019 through March 15, 2020, the exhibitions showcase a diverse group of artists—Carolina Caycedo (United States/Colombia), Daniel Duford (United States), Ximena Garrido-Lecca (Peru), Mulyana (Indonesia), Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore), and Yang Yongliang (China)—whose work highlights a range of issues that relate to how humans are a part of, and interact with, nature.

Caycedo, Duford, and Garrido-Lecca look to indigenous perspectives that take a long view of history and value preservation over short-sighted capitalist gain. Yongliang emphasizes the effects of industrialization on the Chinese landscape, Mulyana focuses on coral reefs as a barometer for climate change and the fragility of ocean ecosystems, and Zhao Renhui examines the vulnerability of the natural world and the value of insects to the health of our planet.

“For many, climate change is the single most pressing concern of our age,” says Todd D. Smith, OCMA’s Director and CEO. “As we continue to explore through our exhibitions what it means to be citizens of the Pacific region, we cannot ignore the environmental changes that are affecting our communities. To help us understand these changes, we have invited a cross-section of artists who chronicle and examine both the conditions that are altering our natural world and the impact these shifts are having on our relationships.”


The spring exhibitions are: 

Carolina Caycedo: Wanaawna, Rio Hondo and Other Spirits

Curated by Cassandra Coblentz, OCMA Senior Curator and Director of Public Engagement

Wanaawna, Rio Hondo and Other Spirits expands Carolina Caycedo’s Water Portraits series (ongoing since 2015) in which photographs of rivers and waterfalls are mirrored, altered, and remixed as printed fabric works, still images, and videos. The resulting imagery conjures bodies of water as living entities and as active political agents in environmental conflicts, rather than as resources for humans to exploit. 

OCMA’s exhibition explores Caycedo’s critique of a European conception of “landscape,” in which the framing and picturing of nature operates as a device of colonization. Instead, her portraits depict rivers, mountains, forests, and minerals as subjects with physical and spiritual agency, not mere resources for humankind to use. The show includes newly created works made in bodies of water, including the Santa Ana and San Gabriel Rivers, the Pacific Ocean, and Kuruvunga Springs (the exhibition title refers to the Tongva name for the Santa Ana River, Wanaawna; Rio Hondo is a tributary of the Los Angeles River). Through performance, in which Caycedo will experiment with submerging the Water Portraits in water and wrapping them around the body, among other actions, she will create new imagery that builds upon indigenous medicinal and shamanic visions. 


Daniel Duford: Underworld Stories Told in Tree Time

Curated by Cassandra Coblentz

For the exhibition Underworld Stories Told in Tree Time, Daniel Duford looks to Gary Snyder’s poem The Way West, Underground to explore new narratives about our relationship to the natural world. Snyder’s poem tracks a mythological Black Bear across time and space from Oregon to Asia then northern Europe, and finally down to Neolithic caves. The bear travels counter-clockwise, a symbolic move that rejects a Eurocentric lens and trajectory of conquering territory in order to control resources. Duford believes that we are currently in a “story crisis,” because our stories have become literally and figuratively “trapped under the pavement” of urban growth at the expense of the natural world. In the stories Duford tells through his art, the renewal of natural resources is a means of resistance to dominant narratives that value the destruction of nature for the sake of growth and civilization. He portrays the Earth as a living entity with the power to regenerate and survive over time. 

Underworld Stories Told in Tree Time brings together a series of Duford’s narrative paintings, prints, and drawings that depict underground migrations and edge dwellers who emerge from the wild to tell ancient stories. Treating the landscape as an essential character in the work, Duford develops the concept of “tree time,” or the slow perception of tree growth as a model for a longer narrative arc in the story of the North American landscape, potentially over centuries. Duford’s “tree time” also acknowledges non-human players in the story and values their viewpoint. 


Ximena Garrido-Lecca: Spectrums of Reference  

Curated by Cassandra Coblentz

Ximena Garrido-Lecca explores the impact of natural resource exploitation on different social groups and cultures, with a particular interest in how industrialization and urbanization have historically affected the relationship between nature and culture. Increasingly, nature is considered to be in the service of science and technology, reduced to a mere object, as opposed to an ancient conception of nature as a living force. In her work, Garrido-Lecca blurs the boundaries between nature and culture by creating synthetic objects made from natural resources.

For this exhibition, the artist investigates contemporary uses of silicon. In its pure form, silicon is mostly found in sands and dust as silicon dioxide or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making it the second most abundant element on Earth, after oxygen. Silicon is most commonly used today in the production of computer chips and solar panel technology, both of which have a history of development and production in California’s Silicon Valley. In this new body of work, Garrido-Lecca repurposes silicon scraps used to make computer chips and fragments from discarded solar panels into various forms, including a stained-glass window and vessels inspired by Pre-Columbian ceremonial ceramics. By connecting ancient ritualistic cultural practices, natural resources, science, and technology, Garrido-Lecca questions belief systems and the capitalist drive to produce new technologies.


Mulyana: A Man, A Monster and The Sea

Curated by guest curator John Silvis

A Man, A Monster and The Sea is Mulyana’s debut exhibition in the United States, comprising three immersive environments that depict oceanic life. Mulyana’s large, visually kinetic installations are composed of intricately constructed modules of organic shapes that coalesce into vividly colored clusters of abstract forms. The soft forms appear bound together by an invisible force as they occupy the floor, wall, and ceiling. 

To create his vibrant portrayal of an unadulterated underwater world, Mulyana re-purposes yarn and employs diverse communities of knitters in Indonesia. He considers the act of knitting and crocheting as a form of meditation and prayer. The collaborative process of making the components of his installations invokes ideas of spirituality, togetherness, and a communal ethos.

The central character of Mulyana’s mythology, the Mogus (monster), represents his alter-ego and is an acronym that combines the Gurita (octopus) with his clan name, Sigarantang. The Mogus, as well as other marine creatures he creates, are metaphors for the beautiful, yet fragile diversity of the coral reefs that provide crucial sustenance and protection to all forms of sea life, and are being destroyed at a rapid pace by human intervention. Within the magical world he creates, Mulyana appeals to our collective consciousness to care for each other and the environment.


Robert Zhao Renhui: Effect

Curated by guest curator John Silvis

Robert Zhao Renhui’s debut museum exhibition in the United States features two bodies of work that highlight the ubiquitous presence of flies and butterflies in our environment. Inspired by scientific methods of categorizing fly types, Zhao Renhui appropriates scientific tools to explore the boundaries, systems, and methods humans use to control fly populations, stemming from a dismissive attitude that belies their necessity. While the fly is seen as a nuisance, the Monarch butterfly, on the other hand, is seen as a beautiful creature; it is a symbol of transformation. 

In Effect, suspended fly traps and lures reflect Zhao Renhui’s fascination with the countless devices and methodologies invented by humans to exterminate insects. His investigation of fly extermination methods continues with one hundred different fly pheromones applied to photographic panels in a warm yellow hue that references the color of commercially produced flytraps. In He Counts The Stars And Calls Them All By Name, a large photographic lexicon documenting 4,784 specimens from a single family of flies (the Hover fly), Zhao Renhui draws the viewer’s attention to their ubiquitous presence in our ecosystem despite their near invisibility in human consciousness. 

Zhao Renhui’s work exposes the overlooked contradictions, assumptions, and tensions inherent in our relationship with nature. Rendering the unseen visible, and the ignored critical, this multidisciplinary exhibition amplifies the intersections of insect and human, and natural and urbanized environments.


Yang Yongliang: Eternal Landscape

Curated by guest curator Melanie Ouyang Lum

Yang Yongliang’s practice is rooted in his deep respect and reverence for Chinese art history, specifically classical Chinese landscape paintings (shanshui). The landscapes in this school of thought are landscapes of the mind—contemplative compositions in which the Chinese literati (scholar/artist/court official) would imbue their ideologies into images of mountains, rivers, and trees. Yongliang grew up in Shanghai in an era of rapid urbanization and, while a student of tradition, he also embraced new media to make sense of the changing world around him. 

The exhibition takes its name from Yongliang’s seminal virtual reality work Eternal Landscape (2017), in which he mastered new technologies to “paint” a Song Dynasty shanshui landscape, furthering his exploration of the interconnectedness between tradition and modernity. For OCMA’s exhibition, film, video, photography, and a virtual reality work create a contemplative space for viewers to journey into the landscape of the artist’s mind. 


Located in South Coast Plaza Village, OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA is the Museum’s temporary venue while it builds its Thom Mayne-designed new home at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.



About the Orange County Museum of Art
Along with its predecessor institution, the Newport Harbor Art Museum, OCMA has an established reputation as an innovative art museum with a history of actively discovering and engaging with living artists at pivotal points in their careers. The museum has organized and presented critically praised exhibitions that have traveled nationally and internationally to more than 35 museums. The museum’s collection of more than 4,500 works of art includes important examples of modern and contemporary art and artists inspired by or working in California, including: John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Irwin, Catherine Opie, Charles Ray, and Ed Ruscha. Recognizing the growing influence of the Pacific Region within Southern California and the art world in general, in recent years the museum has broadened its focus to include artists of the Pacific Rim, transforming its biennial series into the California-Pacific Triennial, the first in the world to examine the totality of contemporary art from Pacific Rim. In the last five years, OCMA has featured works by artists from 23 Pacific Rim countries, including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, and Vietnam. As one of the preeminent visual arts organizations in Orange County, OCMA is committed to making the arts accessible to all and offers a host of programs that engage the community with modern and contemporary art and artists.

In May 2018, OCMA unveiled the design for the museum’s new home at Segerstrom Center for the Arts by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis. The museum will break ground in 2019, with a projected opening in 2021. With nearly 25,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, the new 52,000-square-foot museum will allow OCMA to organize major special exhibitions alongside spacious installations from its world-traveled collection. It will also feature an additional 10,000 square feet for education programs, performances, and public gatherings.


View images here.

Admission to and parking at OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA are free.

Hours: Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Location: South Coast Plaza Village, 1661 W. Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92704