Sea Change: Tanya Aguíñiga’s Bluebelt Forest


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June 2, 2013-January 19, 2014.

Los Angeles-based artist Tanya Aguíñiga transformed the museum’s upper level gallery into a forest of kelp, corals, barnacles, and other wonderful natural forms that one would typically find under the sea off Laguna Beach in a specially-commissioned site-specific installation. Every object in the exhibition was hand-made by the artist and her assistants using a variety of materials, especially textiles. By brilliantly recreating organic elements in unexpected, manmade materials, Aguíñiga enabled the viewer to experience them anew. In addition to looking, visitors were also able to explore the exhibition through touching, allowing for a truly immersive encounter.
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Aguíñiga works at the intersection of furniture design and making, craft, and fine art, allowing each area to be informed and enriched by the others. The ability to successfully navigate between different worlds is something that she attributes to having grown up in the border area of Tijuana and San Diego, where she had to cross the border and move between cultures on a daily basis throughout her childhood. Just as Aguiñiga has been doing in her personal life, she inhabits more than one world through her work. The really remarkable part is that she has become a master of them all, as will be evident from this spectacular installation.
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Tanya Aguíñiga (b.1978) received her BA in Furniture Design from San Diego State University and her MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. Among the awards she has received are United States Artists Fellow and USA Target Fellow in Crafts and Traditional Arts. She has also been involved in numerous community empowerment projects, including the Border Art Workshop (BAW/TAF), a collaborative of artists from Mexico and the US.
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Exhibition support was generously provided by the Orange County Community Foundation, the Draper Family Foundation Fund, the McBeth Foundation, and anonymous donors.
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