The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

UCIRA Artist Rebeca Mendez Exhibition Updates

NOTE FROM ARTIST: Between road trips this summer to drive with my parents from Texas to the Yucatan, and with two teenage nephews from California to Colorado–where I taught a weeklong workshop on contemporary landscape photography at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center–my studio moved into a new space at Neutra’s Strathmore Apartments, fifteen steps down from our home. Adam is very happy with the two trees he is able to hang his hammock between, which explains why this update on my latest works took its time.

View video here

CIRCUMSOLAR, MIGRATION 1, 2013. Single channel video installation. 26 min. 20 sec.

The video follows the migration of the arctic tern, a small sea bird that has the longest migration of all living beings on earth, flying from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again each year. As such, it experiences two polar summers of 24-hour daylight each year, which makes it the one creature in the world that lives the most daylight. With the tern as its protagonist, CircumSolar, Migration 1 looks to explore larger themes critical to our time, such as the

unstoppable force of migration; the ecological concern of climate change and other man-made detritus; the geopolitics of the changing landscapes of coastal lands and the Arctic and Antarctic regions; and at the limit of what is known, the role of the archetypal explorer, who goes beyond to bring back the boon to benefit all.

Visit Page

CircumSolar, Migration 1, Single channel video installation. 25 x 30 ft. 26 min. 20 sec. Installation view: Glow 2013, Santa Monica beach.

I was the first artist-in-residence of Glow, an all-night arts event in Santa Monica beach, held Saturday September 28, 2013, from 6pm to 3am. With my commission to create a unique, site-specific work I created CircumSolar, Migration 1, a single channel video projected onto a 25-feet diameter screen, raised above the sand on a circular truss, like a full moon drifting on the horizon.

Visit Page
KCRW Interview
GLOW 2013

CircumSolar, Migration 1, 2013. Four channel video installation. 100 x 30 ft. 26 min. 20 sec. Installation view: Due North / í Nor?ur, Icebox Project Space.

Due North was an international collaboration envisioned by artist-curator Marianne Bernstein, with whom we shared a house in Skagaströnd, Iceland during our stay with NES Artist Residency. In January 2014, the Icebox Project Space in Philadelphia (one of the largest independent exhibition venues in the city) was transformed into a winterscape featuring video and prints created by a selected group of international artists. Work exhibited was CircumSolar, Migration 1, this time as a four channel video projection.

Visit Page
Due North / í Nor?ur

CircumSolar, Migration 1, 2013. Single channel video installation with sound by Ben Frost. 15ft. circular screen. 26 min. 20 sec. Installation view: TrouwAmsterdam.

CircumSolar, Migration 1 as shown at TrouwAmsterdam (top) was the first time the work was exhibited accompanied by a composition by Ben Frost, who the evening of the opening on May 20th performed his new album A U R O R A (middle), for which I designed the standard 12? vinyl edition, the special colored 12? vinyl edition, the CD, and various singles (bottom).

TrouwAmsterdam is a social experiment: a late night restaurant, club and art space situated in the former newspaper printing facilities of Dutch national newspapers Trouw, Parool, NRC and Volkskrant; a temporary project, conceived in a time of worldwide crisis and tries to fuse music, food, and contemporary art and culture together in an unconventional way. The unique TrouwAmsterdam space closes for good at the end of 2014.

Visit Page for Trouw
Visit Page for A U R O R A

CIRCUMSOLAR, MIGRATION 2, 2013. Mural. Fire retardant canvas and ink. 100 x 25 ft. (~1,250 sq. ft.)

The Los Angeles County Arts Commission commissioned me to make a site-specific civic artwork for a newly built public library in Pico Rivera. The two artworks I created consider the library’s role as a vehicle for exploration and discovery that lead to a journey into knowledge. I focused on bird migration as a metaphor to represent the spirit of a wide open world available for all to explore and experience. I was inspired by Pico Rivera’s Rio Hondo Coastal Basin Spreading Grounds, which offer a resting spot for a diverse range of migratory birds passing through, returning season after season. In the middle of our metropole, tundra swans from the High Arctic have been spotted in January, Bald Eagles in February, and so on; migrants who are free to come and go. On the north wall of the library a photographic mural of 132 feet length depicts (from left to right) our planet from the 90° North Pole to the 90° South Pole, and the different land?and seascapes one encounters in between. Titled CircumSolar, Migration 2, the artwork is dedicated to the voyage of the arctic tern, the world champion in long-distance migration. It is my intent for these artworks to inspire the Pico Rivera community to learn and to imagine through exploration and discovery; to see that the world of knowledge is infinite with no boundaries; to feel connected to this community and to the planet as a whole.

Visit Page

OBSERVATION POST 1, 2013. Sculpture. Corten Steel. 28 x 8 x 12 ft.

Observation Post 1 is located outside the Pico Rivera Public Library. The sculpture is made of nine thousand pounds of 1 inch thick Corten Steel, and is composed of two observations posts, a walking / observation platform and a viewing frame. The work encourages the participants to focus their view beyond the frame toward the trees and sky of Pico Rivera, to step through the threshold, let their mind wander, contemplate and daydream. Up on the lintel of the frame is a quote by Proust from The Captive, Volume 5 of In Search of Lost Time. “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is.” The words have been cut through by water jet, so when one looks up to read the text, one is seeing the sky at the same time.

Visit Page


We were invited to the Nes Artist Residency, an international artist residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, that aims to provide an opportunity for international exchange, artistic cross-pollination, and an open possibility for collaborations. Documenting the arctic tern during their nesting season was the focus during the Nes Residency. We connected with scientists such as the glaciologist Dr. Thorsteinn Thorsteinnsson of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, who invited us on a trip across the Langjökull Glacier, and ornithologist Freydis Vigfusdottir who shared with us her recently completed doctoral research on the arctic tern, which revealed the shocking fact that over the last five years in the Snaefellsnes peninsula 90% of the chicks died within their first month of life due to climate change. After Adam left I explored the Skaga peninsula on my own and met and became friends with the remarkable couple Stein and Merete who run an eider duck farm, Hraun á Skaga, at the northern tip of the land. In exchange for two delicious down duvets my studio designed their logotype and printed matter, created their website, and wrote all the copy.

Visit Page for Nes
Visit Page for Hraun
Visit Hraun’s Website

CircumSolar, Migration 3, 2013. Single channel video installation with sound by Drew Schnurr. 20 x 11 ft. 17 min. 46 sec. Installation view: proposal for REALSPACE, Williamson Gallery (top); still frames (bottom).

REALSPACE: October 3, 2014-January 18, 2015, at the Williamson Gallery, Pasadena. The Williamson Gallery is a participant in AxS 2014: Pasadena Festival of Art & Science, September 19-October 5, 2014.

The term “REALSPACE” in this exhibition refers to the world as it exists without embellishments from human mythologies, lore, and orthodoxies of belief. Objects in the exhibition explore aspects of astronomy, space exploration, zoology, physics, origins of life, history, and the beauty of knowledge. Contemporary artists include myself, Jennifer Steinkamp, Dan Goods, James Griffith, Robert Root-Bernstein, plus others. Science artifacts include imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, plant specimens, DNA data imagery, and historical science literature and video. The work I will show is CircumSolar, Migration 3, shot at Latrabjarg, the most western point of Europe, showing auks, guillemots and puffins in flight over the Greenland Sea.

Visit Page


In September 2014 I have been invited to attend the SOMA Artist Residency in Mexico City. I will give a public lecture on Wednesday September 10 and review artist portfolios during my stay. SOMA is an artist-run space and program to reflect on and discuss different art events in the national and international arena. SOMA?s mission is to encourage dialogue, collaboration and even confrontation between artists and cultural producers from different backgrounds and generations. Through its educational programs, residences and public lectures, at SOMA the aesthetic, political and social consequences of art production are analyzed collectively. For me it is a chance to reconnect with the country I was born and left 35 years ago, in the hope to rekindle old contacts and forge new relations.
above: Yo’k'ib’, 2014. Archival print. 24 x 16 in.

Visit Page

top: Rebeca filming with her 16mm Bolex atop Langjökull glacier in Iceland, 2013.
bottom: Rebeca Méndez Studio, summer 2014.

Rebeca Méndez Studio
11007 Strathmore Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Posted in: News