Latina artist Beatriz Cortez with long brown hair flowing, metallic sculpture behind her
Beatriz Cortez, UC Davis professor of art, has been invited to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale arts and culture showcase. (©Ruben Diaz 2021)

UC Davis Art Professor Tapped for International Venice Biennale Exhibition

Beatriz Cortez Joins in Year of Expanded Focus on Marginalized Identities

UC Davis art professor Beatriz Cortez has been invited to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale arts and culture showcase, marking the first time in 40 years a current faculty member has been tapped for the honor.

Cortez’s participation continues the university’s rich legacy of innovation, exceptional teaching and practice of the arts. She joins the ranks of art department faculty, including William T. Wiley (1972 and 1980) and Roy De Forest (1980), to exhibit at the world-renowned exhibition. The Biennale list was announced earlier this month.

Cortez (born in San Salvador, El Salvador) is a multidisciplinary artist and sculptor. She joined the faculty as associate professor of art in fall 2023 following a visiting professorship in The California Studio: Manetti Shrem Artist Residencies. Visiting artists in The California Studio engage with students at the undergraduate and graduate levels through seminars, critiques and public lectures in residencies that are focused on teaching. The program was founded by the Department of Art and Art History in 2021 and is underwritten by art philanthropists Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem. Prior to her residency, Cortez gave a talk as part of the Art Studio Visiting Artist Lecture Series in April 2020 (view her talk on YouTube).

In fall 2024, the university community and Capital region will have a chance to experience Cortez’s sculpture in a four-person exhibition at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art along with that of fellow artists Kang Seung Lee, Candice Lin and Phillip Byrne (M.F.A. ’22). Lee will also participate in the Biennale and give a public Visiting Artist Lecture on March 7 organized by the Department of Art and Art History.

“This tremendous achievement is a testament to the level of talent Beatriz brings to UC Davis,” said Estella Atekwana, dean of the College of Letters and Science. “Beatriz is already playing a powerful role in increasing our collaborations across our arts programs and departments and helping to elevate our arts community as a whole in national and international recognition.”

Cortez’s work explores simultaneity, life in different temporalities, and imaginaries of the future, particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war and the experience of immigration. Her recent solo exhibition at Storm King Art Center in New York, “Beatriz Cortez: The Volcano that Left,” featured a speculative reconstruction of an ancient volcano made of hammered and welded steel. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2023 Latinx Artist Fellowship from the U.S. Latinx Art Forum.

“I am so thrilled and honored to be the first artist from El Salvador to be included in the international art exhibition of the Venice Biennale, and to be one of few Latinx artists based in the United States who have been invited,” Cortez said. “It is a beautiful manifestation of the communities and individuals whose voices and labor mark my work, and who have supported and inspired me in multiple ways throughout the years.”

The 60th International Art Exhibition is titled “Stranieri Ovunque,” or “Foreigners Everywhere,” and will run from April 20 through Nov. 24. The title is drawn from a series of neon sculptures by the Paris-born, Palermo-based Claire Fontaine collective that render in a growing number of languages the words “Foreigners Everywhere.” The phrase itself comes from the name of a Turin collective that fought racism and xenophobia in Italy in the early 2000s.

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