Christina Fernandez photographs at San José Museum of Art

From June 7 through September 22, 2024, the San José Museum of Art presents Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures. This extensive survey of Fernandez’s work invites audiences to reconsider history, borders, and the lives that cross and inhabit both. The exhibition features Fernandez’s signature bodies of work tracing her conceptual practice over three decades, demonstrating how she has connected aesthetic inquiry with political commitment.

“Fernandez’s early experiences with the Chicano Movement made her more sensitive to her own ancestry as a Mexican American and deeply influenced the development and trajectory of her practice,” Juan Omar Rodriguez, assistant curator at SJMA, said. “Her work attends to narratives that are often written out of history. Christina’s conceptual approach to storytelling invites us to acknowledge other stories—of laborers, path breakers, and people in precarious conditions—in the spaces we move through.”

A key highlight of the exhibition will be the installation Untitled Farmworkers (1989/1994/2024). This work connects Fernandez’s practice with the agricultural history of Silicon Valley and the role of San José as the training ground for Cesar Chavez’s organizing with the United Farm Workers.

Fernandez first staged Untitled Farmworkers as a performance in 1989 as an undergraduate at UCLA. The work consisted of manually typed index cards with the names of farmworkers, listing injuries and deaths from machinery accidents, hazardous working conditions, punishment for protests and disputes, police beatings, lack of medical treatment, and pesticide poisoning. The work was iterated into a grid of 54 photographs in 1994, with each photograph featuring the hand of Fernandez’s brother planting each of the index cards from the 1989 performance into soil.

The installation from the performance and photographic grid were combined as one installation in 2022 and will be updated again at SJMA to include cards with information that highlights the intersections between labor, climate change, and the pandemic.

The exhibition also includes many of Fernandez’s other highly recognizable works that convey her dedication to her family and boarder community. María’s Great Expedition (1995–96) re-stages key moments in the life of the artist’s maternal great-grandmother, María Gonzales. In this installation Fernandez poses as her ancestor, creating compositions that recall the history of photography: from Hollywood glamour, to American Depression-era documentary, to the color snapshot.

In “Sereno” (2006–10) she features photographs produced during daily walks with her young son around their predominantly Latinx neighborhood and considers creative resilience, urban sprawl, leisure, economic mobility, and precarity.

Several works in the exhibition focus on her hometown of Los Angeles.

In “Lavanderia” (2002), her most recognizable series, she creates carefully composed color night views into the laundromats of East Los Angeles. Prior to creating “Lavanderia”, she produced “Manuela S-T-I-T-C-H-E-D” (1996–2000), which captures street views of the facades of garment factories. The exhibition also includes “Space Available” (2004) which documents the temporary studio spaces Fernandez rented in Los Angeles and later vacated when she faced hardships.

Fernandez is also interested in portraying the wider artistic community in her work and this is reflected in the exhibition. With “reflect/project(ion)” (2017), she created a series of portraits of her students alongside their own camera equipment, exploring the roles of mentorship and pedagogy in the field of photography. Her series “View from Here” (2017–19) documents the homes of various creatives, including the photographers Laura Aguilar (1959–2018) and Toyo Miyatake (1895–1979).

Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures is organized by UCR ARTS and is curated by Joanna Szupinska, Senior Curator at the California Museum of Photography. Chon Noriega, Distinguished Professor of Film, Television, and Digital Media at UCLA, is curatorial advisor. The presentation of this exhibition at the SJMA is organized by Juan Omar Rodriguez, assistant curator.

CHRISTINA FERNANDEZ

Christina Fernandez is a photographer who is widely recognized for staged, black and white self-portraits, as well as her poetic, formally composed, color street scenes.

Fernandez was born in 1965 in Los Angeles, where she currently lives and works. She earned a BA at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1989 and an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in 1996. She is an Associate Professor of Photography at Cerritos College, where she has been on faculty since 2000.

In 2021, Fernandez received the prestigious Latinx Artist Fellowship, an initiative administered by the US Latinx Art Forum and supported by the Mellon Foundation and Ford Foundation.

 Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures is the first monographic exhibition of her work.

PROGRAMS

First Friday: Opening Celebration | Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures
Friday, June 7, 6–9pm • Free 

You’re invited to the opening celebration of Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures, which surveys over three decades of Fernandez’s most important photographic series and installations. Galleries are open late with local musical acts. Stop by El Cafecito by Mezcal Restaurant for a light bite and cash bar. Members are invited to a special reception at 6pm with wine and light bites in the cafe patio. 

Spanish Language Led Tours 
Saturday, June 15, 4:30–5:30pm; Saturday, July 20, 12–1pm; and Friday, August 2, 7pm • Free

Experience the dynamic world of Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures on our free Spanish language-led tour! Join SJMA Educator Ruby Morales as she leads you through an immersive experience, weaving together engaging interpretation activities and a hands-on art project inspired by the exhibition. Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to explore, learn, and create together 

Creative Minds: Christina Fernandez and Rosanna Alvarez 
Friday, August 30, 7pm • Free with museum admission 

For the exhibition Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures, assistant curator Juan Omar Rodriguez will lead a conversation with exhibiting artist Christina Fernandez and writer, educator, and co-founder of Eastside Magazine, Rosanna Alvarez. Fernandez and Alvarez will share their approaches to storytelling and reflect on the politics of attending to our communities, from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. 

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