Current Exhibition - Veins: Mining Family History Through Copper by Mayela Rodriguez

January 14 – March 11, 2023

The Architectural Foundation Gallery

The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara is pleased to present the exhibition, Veins: Mining Family History Through Copper, a solo exhibition of photography, video, text, and installation art by Mayela Rodriguez.

The exhibition expands upon Rodriguez’s prior explorations of her lineage and her father’s family, whose members are from Cananea, Mexico where the Buenvavista del Cobre mine is located. For this exhibition, she uses the theme of copper as a lens into her own evolving identity.

In 2017, when Rodriguez was an MFA student at the University of Michigan, she wrote to the Buenavista del Cobre mine requesting information about her distant uncle, Aurelio Rodriguez. She had grown up hearing intriguing stories about this uncle who, allegedly, pitched rocks into the mine as a child and later in life became a professional baseball player for the Detroit Tigers. After many months, Rodriguez received a package from the Buenavista del Cobre mine that contained a 13″ x 18″ sheet of copper wrapped in plastic.

Carrying the copper with her, Rodriguez then embarked on an ambitious pilgrimage to sites that she and her family have called home. She explains “I was interested in discovering what it meant to simply exist with my copper. How could our pilgrimage both transform it and me? By developing a relationship with my copper in this way, I realized that the copper was not just a slab of metal excavated from the depths of Mexican earth but a vessel to hold all my concentrated questions, thoughts, and insecurities about my identity as a Mexican American.”

Veins: Mining Family History Through Copper expands on recent work by contemporary artists who use globally traded commodities as visual metaphors for ways that personal identity inhabits and is shaped by sociopolitical contexts: Minerva Cuevas, Kara Walker, and Minga Opazo whose AFSB exhibition, Siempre Más/Always More (2020), featured weavings and textiles made of found and recycled clothing.

Mayela Rodriguez is an artist and educator who positions art as a collective, inclusive, and healing process. By facilitating the production of community-made collections, she seeks to remind participants and students of the inherent power of their creative voices in making change. Most recently, Rodriguez has worked on collaborative projects with Latinx communities in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in Michigan and New Cuyama and Santa Barbara in California. Rodriguez received her BA from UC Berkeley (2015) and MFA from University of Michigan (2019). Rodriguez was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California. (mayelarodriguez.com)

An Artist Talk will be held at the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon, February 11th from 2-3 p.m. 

Gallery hours are Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and by appointment.

Images shown:

Copper from the Buenavista del Cobre mine

Artist’s collection of Aurelio Rodriguez professional baseball car