GEORGE RODRIGUEZ: EL ZODIACO FAMILIAR | WHATCOM MUSEUM
El Zodíaco Familiar
Whatcom Museum, Bellingham WA
June 19 - October 24, 2021
Having introduced his first Mexican Zodiac series in 2018, sculptor George Rodriguez has recently collaborated with 13 Mexican and Chicanx/Chicane artists on his newest iteration of these forms, El Zodíaco Familiar. The series will be the focus of Rodriguez’s upcoming exhibition at Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, opening June 19, 2021. Each animal represents a sign in the zodiac, and replaces an animal of the traditional Chinese zodiac. And, each animal will feature finishes by a different artist.
Foster/White Gallery: When did you first get the idea to collaborate with other artists?
George Rodriguez: Since the conception of trying to create a Mexican Zodiac representation in 2018, I always knew that one of the series would be a collaboration. The parallel Chinese Zodiac story is about aligning character traits in humans to their corresponding animal. It's about celebrating the differences in each other and still knowing that we are united in the story. I wanted to reach out to other Mexican and Chicanx/e artists in my community to learn from them, teach them, and be in conversation together. I have been pleasantly surprised and in awe every step of the process.
F/WG: What about the Mexican zodiac series you have made is most significant to you?
GR: I enjoy how each iteration of the Mexican Zodiac series has a different energy to them. The vibrancy of the first series at the Seattle Art fair in 2018 felt celebratory and joyful. The third series, Zodíaco en Metalico, felt monumental and stoic. This collaborative series which utilizes the same animals will feel diverse, warm and familiar, just like the collaborators that help make it happen.
F/WG: What is dear to your heart in telling the stories of other Mexican/Chicanx/Chicane artists, or giving them the platform to share their stories?
GR: I have always felt the support of my community while pursuing a career in the arts. Friends, family, and other artist have created opportunities and advocated for my practice. I think it is important that we support each other as much as possible. I love the individual work that all the collaborators make, and I want as many people as possible to see it. I have also had the privilege to have deeper conversations with them, and selfishly expand my community of friends who are amazing artists.
F/WG: What do you hope people will take from experiencing the pieces, etc?
GR: I hope that when people experience Zodiaco Familiar there is a realization of the individuality of artists within the Mexican and Chicanx/e community. We are not a monolithic group, but instead a complex, diverse, talented, pool of creativity. I want people to connect with an individual animal and learn more about the artist behind the work. I want people to see the cross-cultural connections and explore other means of creating bridges.
George Rodriguez holds a BFA from the University of Texas, El Paso, TX, and an MFA in ceramics from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. He has received awards including the Museum of Northwest Art’s Luminaries’ Patti Warashina Award for Emerging Artists. Rodriguez has shown his work across the country including a solo exhibition at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island, WA, and his sculptures can be found in collections such as the National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL.