Gina Osterloh artworks at Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art presents the work of Gina Osterloh (b. 1973, San Antonio, TX) in the artist’s first major museum survey, Mirror Shadow Shape, on view Feb. 24-Oct. 8, 2023. Osterloh’s studio-based practice uses photography, film, performance and drawing to examine the preconceived ways we understand ourselves and others. The Gina Osterloh artworks exhibition is organized by the Columbus Museum of Art and guest curated by Anna Lee, photography curator for special collections at Stanford University Libraries.

Mirror Shadow Shape is comprised of roughly 40 Gina Osterloh artworks created between 2005-2020, showcasing large-scale photographs and video. Camouflage, erasure, assimilation and replication are recurring themes across Osterloh’s work. In her photographic, moving image and performance-based pieces, the artist’s body traverses, traces and punctures photographic space, interrogating the boundaries of a body and its identity.

Gina Osterloh artworks urgently asks the viewer to pause and reconsider larger questions of perception. In her early works, she experimented with brightly colored, meticulously constructed photographic tableaus and repetitive patterns using symbolic themes such as the void, orifice, camouflage and the grid.

Osterloh cites her experience growing up as a mixed-race Filipinx American in Ohio as a formative experience that led her to both photography and larger questions of how one perceives difference. Exploring the dynamics of visibility, identity and power, she challenges the viewer to think about seen or unseen social experiences within the photographic image and consider how people are defined as alien or outsider.

“I am inspired by abstraction and portraiture working together – how the body may adopt forms of visual blocking, such as camouflage or being wrapped in shiny reflective tape, to address preconceived notions of identity,” Osterloh said. “In many ways I am intrigued by how vision informs our creation and understanding of categories, such as race and gender.”

Osterloh’s photographs often depict constructed environments created largely from paper. In the artist’s series Drawings for the Camera (2014-2017) and Zones (2017-ongoing), she creates drawings on photo studio backdrop paper that she then photographs. Utilizing visual metaphors from the core of her practice, the images help expand the viewer’s understanding of portraiture and photography.

“Two things about Gina’s work immediately stood out to me: her meaningful use of photographic series and the unique tone of her imagery — incisive, critical, sad and also humorous,” exhibition curator Anna Lee said. “Although it’s common for photographers to work in series, for 15 years Gina’s series have functioned by following each other, each pushing its premise into a new question. It felt like work from this period needed to be presented together to show the extent to which questions and fantasies of identity and representation have been driving her practice.”

The Gina Osterloh artworks exhibition includes three photographs purchased by CMA to inaugurate the Wayne P. Lawson Prize, which Osterloh was awarded in 2021. Each year, The Wayne P. Lawson Prize recognizes an Ohio artist who represents excellence in their practice. The series of images – Grid, EyesI am image and Holding Zero (all 2020) – are set inside Osterloh’s signature rooms constructed from paper. In these works, an imperfect grid marked out in black tape delineates each room and plays with the intersection of illusion and reality, presence and absence.

Gina Osterloh is an assistant professor of art at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Her work is represented by Higher Pictures Generation in Brooklyn, NY and Silverlens Galleries in Manila, Philippines.


Admission to CMA is$18 for adults; $9 for seniors (60+), students (18+) and children (4-17); and free for members and children 3 and under. Admission to Mirror Shadow Shape is included in the cost of general admission. On Thursdays from 5-9 p.m., general admission is $5. General admission is free for all on Sundays. Members always receive free admission to special exhibitions.

About Columbus Museum of Art  

CMA is where creativity and the daily life of its community intersect and thrive, as the Museum champions new and different ways of thinking and doing. CMA celebrates the creative process and sets the stage for people to experience art, ideas and relationships that spark creativity and nurture collective, courageous imagination.

CMA’s collection includes outstanding late 19th- and early 20th-century American and European modern works of art, grounded in the Ferdinand Howald and the Howard D. and Babette L. Sirak Collections. The Museum houses the world’s largest collections of works by beloved Columbus-connected artists Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce and George Bellows and acclaimed collections such as The Photo League and the Philip and Suzanne Schiller Collection of American Social Commentary Art. The recently established Scantland Collection of the Columbus Museum of Art also continues CMA’s dedication to showcasing the art of our time.

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