Symposium – Art from Guatemala: 1960 – Present

Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art are proud to present a symposium focusing on Guatemalan visual art production from the 1960s to the present day as the culmination of the exhibition Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960 - Present. The symposium brings together renowned critics, academics, and Guatemalan art historians Rosina Cazali, Martín Fernández, Silvia Herrera Ubico, and Mario Roberto Morales, who also served as the Advisory Committee for the exhibition, in addition to co-curators Miki Garcia and Emiliano Valdés.

Part of the Getty’s ambitious Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, Guatemala from 33,000 km features works of art created in Guatemala just after the start of the civil war in 1960 to the present day. The exhibition is organized around nine central ideas: Art & Politics; Art Histories; Formal Experimentation; Gender Perspectives; Land, Landscape, Territory; Popular Cultures; Racisms & Identities; Religion/Spirituality/Metaphysics; and Violence & Trauma. The vast range of artwork in the exhibition, spanning diverse media and perspectives, demonstrates that even during the worst years of repression and war in their country, artists, both as individuals and collectives, continued to create visual expressions that not only mirrored but directly engaged with the sociopolitical situations of their time, albeit often through muted languages and conceptually oriented presentation.

This first major examination of Guatemalan modern and contemporary art, both in Guatemala and abroad, Guatemala from 33,000 km connects the country’s artistic output to practices and initiatives taking place in Latin America and to broader global art phenomena of this era.

Tickets may be purchased here through our professional event ticketing system.

General public: $25
Students & MCASB / Westmont members: $15

The symposium is part of the Pacific Standard Time LA/LA Santa Barbara Weekend. Additional information on events and exhibitions can be found at

For further information contact


9:00 am - 10:00 am                 Registration opens
10:00 am - 10:30 am Welcome by Judy Larson, Director, Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
Introduction by Miki Garcia, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara
10:30 am - 12:00 pm Violence, Trauma, and Political Art in the City and the Countryside
Rosina Cazali Escobar and Mario Roberto Morales - moderated by Emiliano Valdés
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch and Tour of the exhibition at Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Popular Cultures and Abstraction: Images and Ideas in Transition
Silvia Herrera Ubico and Martín Fernández Ordóñez - moderated by Emiliano Valdés
2:30 pm - 3:00 pm Coffee
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm Thoughts and Works on Identity: Religion, Race and Gender in Guatemalan Contemporary Art
Emiliano Valdés
4:30 pm - 5:00 pm Final Remarks
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Refreshments


Miki Garcia (U.S., 1972) has been Executive Director at MCASB since 2005, where she has curated exhibitions such as assume vivid astro focus: avalanches volcanoes asteroids floods (2016); Dasha Shishkin: erry icket (2013); Michele O'Marah: Video Portraits and Home Show, Revisited (2011); Sanford Biggers: Moon Medicine (2010); and Marc Swanson: Beginning to See the Light (2007) among several other group and solo projects with local, national, and international artists. Previously, Garcia worked at the Public Art Fund, New York, NY and at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, CA. She has also participated as guest curator at El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY and as a lecturer and panelist for various organizations including Creative Capital, California Community Foundation, Art Matters Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs. Garcia holds a MA in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin, TX and a BA in Art History from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY.
Emiliano Valdés (Guatemala, 1980) is Chief Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, Medellin, Colombia. Previously, he was Associate Curator for the 10th Gwangju Biennale which opened in September 2014. Before that, and for nearly five years, he was Curator/Head of Visual Arts at the Spanish Cultural Center in Guatemala where he developed a contemporary art program that helped re-shape the country’s art scene. Valdes also co-directed Proyectos Ultravioleta, an experimental platform for contemporary art in Guatemala City that engages in a re-thinking of its visual and cultural production. His 2011 project Serie Revisiones which included semi-retrospective exhibitions of some of the most significant Guatemalan contemporary artists serves as precedent for documenting the work of modern and contemporary artists.
Rosina Cazali Escobar (Guatemala, 1960) is a critic and an independent curator, specializing in Guatemalan contemporary art. She is a founding member of quackery project and cofounder of Colloquia, a space for contemporary art. As the Director at the Spanish Cultural Center in Guatemala between 2003-2006, she initiated the publishing project Collection Thought. She has participated as curator for several international biennials and as independent curator in different places throughout Latin America and Spain. In 2010 she received the invitation from Mondrian Foundation and Prince Claus Foundation to participate in Orientation Trip, an exchange between art professionals in Istanbul, Mali, Nigeria, and other locales. She was awarded a grant from the John Simon Guggenheim and also received the Prince Claus Award for her trajectory as curator and writer in 2014. Currently she is the documentation center consultant at the Yaxs Foundation, Guatemala. Cazali Escobar holds a BA from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala.
Silvia Herrera Ubico (Guatemala, 1955) holds a PhD in Philosophy and Literature by the University of Narrara, Pamplona, ​​Spain, with a thesis in the artistic philosophy of Etienne Gilson. She obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy and Literature from Rafael Landivar University, Guatemala with a thesis on the history of theatre in Guatemala. She has worked at such institutions as the Ixchel Museum of Indigenous Dress, American Guatemalan Institute, and the Carlos Woods Gallery of Ancient and Contemporary Art. She teaches Art History at Francisco Marroquín University and San Carlos de Guatemala University, Guatemala City. She has worked on several publications related to culture, philosophy, arts and aesthetics in collaboration with the magazine of the University of San Carlos, Guatemala Magazine, Culture of Rafael Landivar University, and Fitness Magazine, among others.
Mario Roberto Morales (Guatemala, 1947) has published books on literary criticism including Ideology and Lyric of Armed Struggle (Guatemala: Editorial Universitaria, 1994); The Articulation of Differences or Maximón Syndrome (Guatemala: FLACSO, 1999 Consucultura, 2002, 2008; and Intercultural Brief History of Guatemala (Guatemala: Editorial Cultura, 2014). He is the editor of the critical edition of Miguel Angel Asturias' Tales and Legends (Paris: Archives, 2000), and of Stoll-Menchú: the Invention of Memory (Guatemala: Consucultura, 2001). He has also published novels including, Wild Demons (1977, 1993, 2015); The Splendor of the Pyramid (1986,1993) and Face of the Earth, Heart of the Sky (trans. Edward W. Hood, Arizona: Bilingual Review Press, 2000) among others. He is a columnist in the Spanish daily La Insignia,, the Mexican website Mé and the Guatemalan newspaper el Periódico. Morales holds a PhD in Latin American Literature and Culture from the University of Pittsburgh, and taught until 2010 Latin American Literature in the International Graduate Program of the Department of Modern Languages ​​of the University of Northern Iowa. Morales was awarded the National Literature Prize Miguel Angel Asturias of Guatemala in 2007. He is a member of the Guatemalan Academy of Language (local chapter of the Royal Spanish Academy). Currently he is the Director of the Master's Degree Program in Latin American Cultural Studies at FLACSO-Guatemala, and also Professor at the Graduate School of Political Science of the University of San Carlos of Guatemala.
Martin Fernandez Ordonez (Guatemala, 1976) holds a BA in Art History at Francisco Marroquin University, Guatemala and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Urbino, Italy and the Free University of Berlin. He holds a Masters Degree in Museum Studies from Istituto per il Restauro l'Arte and Palazzo Spinelli, Florence, Italy with a graduate internship at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid, 2005. In 2000 he was responsible for the Guatemalan Pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Hannover, Germany, and worked as Second Secretary for Consular and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Guatemala in Germany until 2004. He has lectured widely in Italy, Spain, Mexico, and the United States, as well as having participated in several projects and internships such as one held at the Cultural Section of the UNESCO New York Office in 2008. Currently he works as a Visiting Professor at Francisco Marroquin University and as an independent consultant for art / theater projects since 2006. From 2011 he worked as Art History Coordinator, Department of Education, Francisco Marroquin University. Most recently, he is founding member of PCA (Active Cultural Patrimony Space), a private association under development that seeks to become a specialized consultancy office.
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