Maia Cruz Palileo brings Filipiniana stories to CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts announces Maia Cruz Palileo: Long Kwento, a solo exhibition opening September 14 featuring new paintings and sculptures from multi-disciplinary, Brooklyn-based artist Maia Cruz Palileo. Curated by Kim Nguyen, the exhibition features work inspired by historic Filipiniana stories, portraits, and images, fused with Palileo’s memories and family stories.

Influenced by the oral history of a family’s arrival to the United States from the Philippines, as well as the history between the two countries, Maia Cruz Palileo investigates larger questions pertaining to identity, history, migration, and concepts of time. Infusing narratives with both memory and imagination, Palileo translates diverse materials into a novel formal language to describe a new world of the artist’s own making.

This exhibition of new paintings and sculptures stems from research Palileo conducted at the Newberry Library in Chicago, which has one of the largest collections of Filipiniana in the world (comprising the collections of Edward E. Ayer, an American who assembled a vast trove of Phillippine 17th and 18th-century manuscripts upon US victory over the Spanish at Manila Bay in 1898; and the photographic archive of Dean C. Worcester, an influential and controversial figure in the early years of American presence in the Philippines). These varied documents, spanning centuries and cultures, offered a kaleidoscopic vision of the Philippines as seen through numerous eyes, and recalled by Westerners. 

Palileo recontextualizes these stories, portraits, and images in an attempt to resuscitate these figures from the exploitative gaze of these ethnographic images. Inspired by Damián Domingo, Palileo’s expressive, gestural paintings imbue a sense of humanity and dignity to the subjects. Palileo integrates historical narratives from the colonial past of the Philippines with stories and memories of life as a Filipinx American growing up in the United States, producing paintings that possess dream-like qualities that hover between fact and fiction. Combining Palileo’s extensive research with narratives of American Imperialism, beginning with the Filipino-American war, and the artist’s own understanding of a fractured and complex past, the work evokes nostalgia and romanticism while critiquing the ramifications of colonization, past and present.

Location: 360 Kansas Street (between 16th and 17th streets), San Francisco 
Gallery hours: Wednesday–Saturday, noon–6 pm; closed Sunday to Tuesday
Admission: Free

Following the close of the exhibition at the Wattis Institute in December, Maia Cruz Palileo: Long Kwento will travel to Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, and will be on view beginning January 14, 2022. 

About the Artist

Maia Cruz Palileo (Photo by Ligaiya Romero)
Maia Cruz Palileo (Photo by Ligaiya Romero)

Maia Cruz Palileo (b. 1979, Chicago, Illinois) received an MFA in sculpture from Brooklyn College, City University of New York and a BA in studio art at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts.

Palileo has participated in residencies at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, New York (2017); Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2015); Lower East Side Print Shop, New York (2015); Millay Colony, New York (2015), and the Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans (2015). Palileo has received a Nancy Graves Grant (2020), Art Matters Grant (2019), Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2018), Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Program Grant (2017), Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2014), NYFA Painting Fellowship (2015), Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Award (2008), and the Astraea Visual Arts Fund Award (2009).

Recent solo exhibitions include The Way Back, Taymour Grahne, London; Meandering Curves of a Creek, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn; and Maia Cruz Palileo at Katzen Museum, American University, Washington, D.C. Palileo teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn.

About CCA Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts

Founded in 1998 at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and located a few blocks from its campus, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts is a nonprofit exhibition venue and research institute dedicated to contemporary art and ideas. As an exhibition space, it commissions and shows new work by emerging and established artists from around the world. Recent solo exhibitions include Jeffrey Gibson: Nothing Is EternalLydia Ourahmane: صرخة شمسية Solar CryCinthia Marcelle: A mortaVincent FecteauAbbas Akhavan: cast for a follyAkosua Adoma Owusu: Welcome to the Jungle (which traveled to the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans); Diamond Stingily: Doing the Best I CanRosha Yaghmai: Miraclegrow; and Adam Linder: Full Service (which traveled to Mudam Luxembourg). A recent group exhibition, Mechanisms, traveled to Secession in Vienna in an expanded form entitled Other Mechanisms

As a research institute, the Wattis dedicates an entire year to reflect on the work of a single artist, which informs a regular series of public programs and publications involving the field’s most prominent artists and thinkers. The 2021–2022 season is dedicated to the artist Lorraine O’Grady; past seasons featured Joan Jonas, Andrea Fraser, David Hammons, Seth Price, Dodie Bellamy, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Cecilia Vicuña.

The Wattis also hosts an annual Capp Street Artist-in-Residence, one of the earliest and longest-running artist-in-residence programs in the country, founded in 1983 by Ann Hatch as Capp Street Project, and incorporated into the Wattis Institute in 1998. Each year, an artist comes to live and work in San Francisco for a semester, teaches a graduate seminar at CCA, and develops a new body of work or research. Recent participants include Raven Chacon (2020–2021), Hồng-An Trương (2019–2020), Abbas Akhavan (2018–2019), contemptorary (2017–2018), Melanie Gilligan (2016–2017), Carissa Rodriguez (2015–2016), and Nairy Baghramian (2014–2015). For more information, visit

No Comments Yet.