Skip to main content
Adela Goldbard Event 2

Prometheus 2017
Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco

On View August 29 – December 15, 2017

Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco showcases José Clemente Orozco’s mural Prometheus (1930) on the Pomona College campus and examines the multiple ways Orozco’s vision resonates with four artists working in Mexico today. Isa Carrillo, Adela Goldbard, Rita Ponce de León, and Naomi Rincón-Gallardo share Orozco’s interest in the relationships among history, justice, power, social protest, and storytelling, yet approach these topics from their own twenty-first-century sensibilities. These artists activate Orozco’s mural by reinvigorating Prometheusfor a contemporary audience. Prometheus 2017 is supported by grants from the Getty Foundation as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an initiative led by the Getty.

Orozco’s Prometheus represents the first mural painted in the US by a Mexican muralist, and signifies the beginning of a complex decade of Mexican engagement with US publics. Orozco’s vision of Prometheus as an allegory for art that attempts to reach a wider audience—bringing knowledge and enlightenment to the masses—highlights the ethos of Mexican muralism to transform society. Orozco’s Prometheus reflects the tensions in his practice between a commitment to a political message and private agency. Orozco’s esoteric and iconographic engagement with the myth involves his own biography and elite ideas about the artist as a prophet or seer. 

Carrillo, Goldbard, Ponce de León, and Rincón-Gallardo utilize strategies of engaged historical or archival research, public intervention, or intimately scaled social practice to connect with their publics and advance social issues. The work of the four artists presented in Prometheus 2017 aligns with Orozco’s complicated humanism; each artist addresses Orozco’s mural, person, and/or practice in distinct ways.

Carrillo’s psychological portrayal of Orozco uses the practice of esoteric arts such as astrology and graphology to intimately explore his life and work. Referencing acts of political violence in recent Mexican history, Goldbard creates videos of sculptures that she fabricates with local artisans then activates or destroys using pyrotechnics. She embraces the metaphor of fire as a tool of both creation and destruction. Ponce de León revisits the history and legacy of mural art as a tool to reconceptualize community building and public art practice. Collaborating with Pomona College students, Ponce de León’s project for the exhibition engages Prometheus through collective work sessions. Examining Greek mythology and historical dreams of utopia in Mexico, Rincón-Gallardo links a personal narrative with an exploration of the themes that are at the heart of Prometheus and Orozco’s turn to myth.

The exhibition will be on view at the Pomona College Museum of Art from August 29 to December 16, 2017, with performances and related programming occurring regularly throughout those months. The exhibition opens with a presentation of Orozco’s preparatory drawings for the mural drawn from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition dedicates a gallery to each of the contemporary artists, highlighting her connections to Orozco and the Prometheus mural. A timeline anchors elements of the exhibition with information on Orozco’s life and artwork, the Prometheus mural, Prometheus as a discursive figure, the history of Pomona College, and pertinent world events.

Prometheus 2017 catalog cover

Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco

José Clemente Orozco’s 1930 mural Prometheus, created for the Pomona College campus, is a dramatic and gripping examination of heroism. This thoughtful exhibition catalogue examines the multiple ways Orozco’s vision resonates with four artists working in Mexico today. Isa Carrillo, Adela Goldbard, Rita Ponce de León, and Naomi Rincón- Gallardo share Orozco’s interest in history, justice, social protest, storytelling, and power yet approach these topics from their own twenty-first-century sensibilities. These artists activate Orozco’s mural by reinvigorating Prometheus for a contemporary audience.

This gorgeous volume presents substantial new scholarship connecting Mexican muralism with contemporary art practices. Three new essays address different aspects of Orozco, Prometheus, and the connections between Los Angeles and Mexico. The contributors take on a broad range of topics, from murals as public art to how Orozco’s work fits into contemporary frameworks of aesthetic theory. The book also includes a chronology, vibrant reproductions, and critical essays focused on the con-temporary artists. 

Texts by Rebecca McGrew, Terri Geis, Mary K. Coffey, Daniel Garza Usabiaga, and Benjamin Kersten. Catalogue design by Kimberly Varella with Becca Lofchie, Content Object. Pomona College Museum of Art, publisher; Getty Publications, distributor.

To purchase, email benton@pomona.edu

$39.95

Artists

Isa Carrillo, Adela Goldbard, Rita Ponce de León, Naomi Rincón-Gallardo, and José Clemente Orozco

Sponsor

Prometheus 2017: Four Artists from Mexico Revisit Orozco is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Curators

The exhibition is organized by Rebecca McGrew, Pomona College Museum of Art senior curator, with the assistance of the Prometheus 2017 research team—Terri Geis, former Pomona College Museum of Art curator of academic programs; Mary K. Coffey, Dartmouth College professor of art history; Daniel Garza Usabiaga, artistic director of Zona Maco in Mexico City; Nidhi Gandhi and Ian Byers-Gamber, Pomona College Museum of Art curatorial assistants; and Benjamin Kersten, former Pomona College Museum of Art curatorial assistant.