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The Many Migrations Of Artist Griselda Rosas

Prolific transborder mixed-media artist Griselda Rosas lets place and migration economics inform her work — on view in four different shows in February and

A mixed media paper and thread work by border artist Griselda Rosas

Photo by Griselda Rosas

Above: A mixed media paper and thread work by border artist Griselda Rosas

Griselda Rosas is, it seems, suddenly everywhere. And so is her work. The San Diego Art Prize finalist's broad repertoire — from large hanging sculptures suspended from ropes to mixed media pieces she embroiders at her kitchen table after her son goes to sleep — is specifically inspired and informed by place. The origins of the materials she uses and where they've traveled to seem as important to her as the shapes they take in her works.

In Tijuana, she buys large quantities of vividly colored thread she uses for embroidery, for example, and carries it across the border to San Diego to work. She refers to this as a "language of economics," pointing out that materials bought in Mexico are almost always made in Mexico.

"I like that quality, that they're made in the country and they cross the border," Rosas said in her studio in Seaport Village, part of a partnership with the tourist haven and arts organizations like Bread and Salt to convert spaces into artist-in-residence studios between leases.

Photo by Julia Dixon Evans

Artist Griselda Rosas in her studio in San Diego

These miniature migrations of materials and art echo the crossing back and forth that Rosas does. The pieces she creates are rooted in postcolonial imagery as well as migration, economics, identity and class, and she constantly seeks new ways to understand these elements. She recently studied Hindu art and was struck by its similarities to Mayan art, for example. Her work often plays with the ideas of colonization, marginalization and border culture by stitching found icons and imagery alongside unexpected pairings.

Rosas' work will be on view in four different spaces throughout the next few months, with several more exhibitions happening throughout the year. Here's how to find her work:

At Lux Art Institute, the fiber and textile art of current artists-in-residence Chiachio and Giannone is an evocative match for Rosas's work. She is displaying an exhibition of her mixed media embroidery as the Featured Regional Artist alongside the residency now through March 14, with a reception and artist talk on March 6.

Photo by Griselda Rosas

Mixed media collage and embroidery work by Griselda Rosas

Rosas is part of the ambitious group show "Illumination," opening Feb. 8 at San Diego Art Institute and running through May 3. She worked with a scientist noted for work on phantom limb syndrome and synesthesia, and created textile art steeped in postcolonialism and the shared language she found with her scientist: poetry, migrations, legends and iconography.

Another group show opens Feb. 8. In "Ready Lane," at the City Gallery at San Diego City College, Rosas will be featured alongside 14 other San Diego artists, including Rizzhel Javier, Anna O'Cain and Gail Roberts. The show runs through Mar 4.

As part of the Oceanside Public Library's "The Big Read" project, Oceanside Museum of Art will feature works by Rosas that connect with the featured book: Luis Alberto Urrea's novel "Into the Beautiful North." It's a migration story, and her art features three large cement map sculptures — the topography blackened with cement pigment and charcoal — first of the Mexican state of Sinaloa, where the characters begin their journey in Mazatlan, then of Tijuana in Baja California and one of California. The exhibition opens on Feb. 15 and runs through late May.

In May, as a finalist for the San Diego Art Prize, she'll show her work at the Athenaeum with the other three finalists: Alanna Airtram, Melissa Walter and Kaori Fukuyama.

Finally, in the fall, Rosas will install a solo exhibition of works at MCASD. The museum will be showing a retrospective of Yolanda López, one of her early influences as an artist. For Rosas, it's somewhat overwhelming to be shown in the same space as one of her heroes, but her remarkable work ethic and need to constantly be in motion — migrations of body, work and productivity — keep her mind clear.

"This is the most busy I've ever been in my life, in my career," said Rosas. But when asked if she'll need a quieter period after a busy showing season, she reflects on her penchant for productivity. "I have my son and I am a mother. I'm always alert. And I think crossing the border makes me always be alert," she said. "I think I'm always creating. I don't have breaks."

Photo by Griselda Rosas

Mixed media, collage and embroidery work by Griselda Rosas

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Photo of Julia Dixon Evans

Julia Dixon Evans
Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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