Herberger Institute lecture series brings visiting artists to ASU

Rodrigo Valenzuela and Val Britton visit ASU’s Tempe campus for the 2019 Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series

Visiting artists lead talks about their recent art pursuits and the development of their creative process through ASU’s Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series.

The 2019 series began with a lecture by Brad Kahlhamer, a New York-based artist from Arizona who is known for the wide range of medias he works with. The events take place at Neeb Hall at ASU’s Tempe campus and are free to the public. 

Rodrigo Valenzuela, an assistant professor at UCLA, is a Latino artist who aims to address social and political issues especially regarding the working class through his use of photography, painting and videography. 

Valenzuela led a lecture in the series on Tuesday and said his talk would center on topics of how he attempts to empower the working class through his art. Additionally, he said the lecture would touch on other painting installations and projects he has taken part in during the last four years of his work.

“I think a lot of the issues that drive my work is the attempt to be a part of something,” Valenzuela said. "I think being part of the intellectual community is very important for democracy."

He said that once people are able to have a conversation, they are then able to truly understand each other. 

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He said he wants to be able to ask the audience to think critically about society and to ask themselves how we understand class in this country. 

"Making art is not a matter of privilege, it's a way of thinking," Valenzuela said. 

Liz Cohen, an associate professor in ASU's School of Art, helped organize the lecture for Valenzuela's visit and said she admires Valenzuela’s method of dealing with issues that have a contextual relevance through his artwork.

"We are situated along the border," Cohen said. "We have very particular relationships to labor, the land and identity."

Val Britton, another artist visiting ASU as part of the lecture series, is a Seattle-based artist who aims to map physical locations and psychological spaces through paintings and installations.

Britton’s work targets landscapes and the language of maps to explore memory, history and the possibilities of abstraction, according to her website. She will give her lecture on April 2. 

Cohen said it is important for students to come to these events, even if they aren't students within Herberger Institute for Design and Arts, because these talks will be coming from a very personal perspective. 

She said many things can be represented through Valenzuela’s photography in regard to identity and different conditions like labor. 

“We take care of issues of representation for our students that are thinking about ways to represent the environment,” Cohen said.

Kenna Connelly, a junior studying art with a specialization in painting, attended Valenzuela's lecture event and said she felt that students could appreciate these events because of the different perspectives they provide.

“As an artist and as someone who loves writing, I've benefited,” Connelly said. “I think anyone could benefit (from attending), honestly.”

She said that the topics Valenzuela gave insight to during his lecture, such as his personal experiences, opened her worldview. 

“We talk about Chicano and Latino experiences, but to hear about it from someone who is from Chile, I think that was really, really neat,” Connelly said.

“I think anybody that is at college right now and trying to think critically about the world that they came to would enjoy this” Valenzuela said. 


Reach the reporter at ssalahi@asu.edu or follow @mynameissamia on Twitter.

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