The Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College is pleased to announce the opening of Christina Fernandez: Under the Sun, an exhibition that features not only the work of the Los Angeles–based artist but also related works, selected by the artist herself, from the museum’s collection. The exhibition, which runs from August 24 to December 18, 2022, is centered on Fernandez’s photography-based installations that treat labor, land, and light. She puts her photographs in conversation with both historical and contemporary works from the Benton that examine such related topics as activism, climate justice, landscape, and migration. Related programs, including a talk by Fernandez, will begin on October 22, 2022, with an artist celebration.

“We value our projects with contemporary artists like Christina Fernandez,” said Rebecca McGrew, senior curator at the Benton. “They bring us to a different understanding of the works in our collection, and it is illuminating to see subjects, themes, and questions reverberate with one another. This is especially true of Fernandez’s work, which is informed by and speaks so eloquently to issues of the greatest relevance to those of us in Southern California. She is building an alternate history of life here that lays bare the human costs of comfort and abundance.”

In selecting works from the Benton’s collection, Fernandez re-enacted her own process of creation: extensive research that involves exploring artists and artifacts, and poring over maps, photographs, and rare books. Under the Sun revolves around Fernandez’s works Bend and Untitled Farmworkers. Bend is a highly personal narrative that describes the impending passing of Fernandez’s grandmother and the artist’s efforts to photograph Cocijo, the Zapotec god of lightning, inside a tomb at Monte Alban in Oaxaca. These two events are linked in her work by the use of light as a revelatory force that imbues both the grandly historical and the deeply intimate with beauty.

Untitled Farmworkers is a searing indictment of the hazardous working conditions of farmworkers. Updated for this exhibition and framed by a brief history of the United Farm Workers, the installation demonstrates the increasing impact of global warming on an already vulnerable population. Fernandez surrounds Untitled Farmworkers with examples from the Benton’s collection of documentary photography depicting boycotts, protests, and civil rights and labor activists, as well as a selection of José Clemente Orozco’s drawing studies for his monumental Prometheus mural.

Christina Fernandez: Under the Sun is the newest presentation in a series that invites contemporary artists to engage with the Benton’s collection. The museum is committed to the concept of art as an evolving conversation, with artists as guides who not only frame challenging issues of the present but also reflect the relevance of art of the past. By integrating artists and their creative vision with the collection, the Benton encourages insightful discussions about how we learn, how we evaluate ideas, and how to connect the visual to other forms of information.

Related Programs

An opening artist reception will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2022 from 4 to 6 pm. On Saturday, December 3, 2022, the Benton and UCR ARTS will co-host gallery tours with Fernandez, with an 11 am tour at UCR ARTS and a 2 pm tour at the Benton.

About the Exhibition

The exhibition is curated by Christina Fernandez with Rebecca McGrew, senior curator, and Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia, curatorial assistant. Major support for this exhibition has been provided by the Pasadena Art Alliance. Christina Fernandez is presented concurrently with the California Museum of Photography’s survey Christina Fernandez: Multiple Exposures (September 10, 2022–February 5, 2023) and Tierra Entre Medio, also curated by Fernandez, at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, UCR ARTS (September 11, 2022–April 2, 2023).

About the Artist

Christina Fernandez (b. 1965) lives and works in Los Angeles. Fernandez presented works from her Lavanderia series in the Benton’s Project Series 18 in 2003. She also served on the artists’ nominating panel for the Benton’s 2015 exhibition R.S.V.P. Los Angeles: The Project Series at Pomona. Fernandez holds an MFA from the California Institute of Arts and a BFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad and is in the permanent collections of the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College; the J. Paul Getty Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Antonio Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art; the USC/Fischer Gallery; and the Williams College Museum of Art. Fernandez was the artist in residence at the Centro de la Imagen, D.F., Mexico, and has received commissions from the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies and the Mexican Museum in San Francisco.