Artist Camilo Cruz will unveil a series of “nontraditional” photographic portraits of African Americans and Latinos and the psychological dynamics associated with personal strength and social empowerment inside the institutional setting of the courthouse where he works.
The opening reception is open to the public and will take place on Sunday, May 23, from 2–4 p.m. at The Museum of African American Art, located on the 3rd floor of Macy’s inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. The exhibit will run from May 23 to August 29, 2010. Admission is free.
For this series, Camilo Cruz photographs African American and Latino/a attorneys, judicial officers, bureaucrats, litigants, police officers, and others who are emerging within a system that has historically excluded people of color. The viewer is challenged to question how people of color interact with the institutional space that presses around them.
Because the use of cameras is prohibited in the public spaces of the court, Cruz creates human tableaus and nontraditional portraits after hours in order to reenact the physical/emotional landscape that he witnesses during his day in a Los Angeles courthouse. Cruz says, “By creating imagery of what I see inside of a court, I want to redefine the bureaucratic experience as art and by doing this, hopefully raise consciousness about the institutional forces that impact our lives.”
In a full-page article published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal (January 2009), columnist Martin Berg writes that Cruz is “an explorer, diving into the depths of how the system of justice affects our humanity.” According to Cruz, the portraits in this show document the psychological and social tensions as black and brown individuals and families negotiate uncharted territories of power while the institutional atmosphere subtly undermines their ability to determine how their lives unfold.
Camilo Cruz holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Claremont Graduate University.