Window Dressing 2021

WINDOW DRESSING is an annual cycle of short-term installations in the window vitrine on the exterior of the Fine Arts Building. Individual installations run for two weeks only.

Due to Covid restrictions, during the Fall semester the Cerritos College Art Gallery's Main Gallery will be closed, however, the Window Dressing installations can be viewed safely from outside in the open air (all visitors must remain masked and maintain proper social distance).

Christopher Anthony Velasco                                              
Aug 29 – Sep 11, 2021

As an extension of the ongoing Fresh Donor series, Forbidden Photos of a Doctor Above Suspicion pushes Christopher Anthony Velasco’s work from its initial stage of decomposition straight into Stage 4 (advanced decay) and even Stage 5 (dry remains/bones). To achieve this, Velasco will transform the gallery’s window display into a temporary laboratory where the eponymous doctor, performed by Velasco himself, can freely experiment on Polaroid images – cutting, injecting, burning, and cauterizing them into various stages of decomposition. These medical procedures treat the Polaroid as a kind of body - with skin and bones and organs - deteriorating the photographic objects into both representational and non-representational images. Mixing photographic and painting techniques with Polaroid instant film technologies allows the doctor to surgically open up the body of the image, by which attempts at corrective operations slip into autopsy, as both the internal and external frameworks inevitably fail and death ultimately prevails. In point of fact, Polaroid instant film will always naturally decay without proper archival preservation. Velasco’s laboratory display merely speeds up those natural and chemical processes. In a sense, the images become reanimated, similar to the way in which H.P. Lovecraft’s character, Herbert West, reanimates body parts through the discovery of a special serum in the film adaptation, Re-Animator. Just as West experiments with the bodies of his victims, Velasco’s photographic ‘creations’ are first killed and then reborn through chemical and environmental processes that manipulate the step-by-step stages of ‘natural’ decomposition. These chemical properties unite to create a new internal form and aesthetic experience, which visitors can safely view from behind the protective glass of the display window. The installation, which includes over 100 Polaroids of multiple sizes and in various states of decay, as well as a table and tools for experimentation and, of course, the doctor’s lab coat, will be activated on scheduled days by Velasco performing live as the doctor, enacting the mad scientist motif conducting his fiendish experiments. The doctor performs live on Monday, August 30th @ 7PM and Saturday, September 11th @ 12pm

Christopher Anthony Velasco is a photographer and performance artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. He emphasizes the queer brown body, incorporating horror and camp aesthetics into his work. Velasco received his Master of Fine Arts from UC Santa Barbara and his BFA from California Institute of the Arts. As a Getty Marrow Undergraduate Intern, Velasco interned at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (now Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) and UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center and Library. An instructor at CSSSA (California State Summer School of the Arts), Velasco’s work has been featured in exhibitions at Art Center College of Design, AD&A Museum, Avenue 50 Studios, California Institute of the Arts, Hibbleton Gallery, the Getty Museum, and the Vincent Price Art Museum. In addition, he has performed with Harry Gamboa, Jr., with Virtual Verite, and at Los Angeles Union Station, UC Santa Barbara, and LAST Projects. A set of his manipulated Polaroids resides in Cerritos College Art Gallery's own Dr. Robert Summers Queer Art Permanent Collection.

Michele Jaquis                                        
WE ARE HERE, TOGETHER                 
Sep 12 – Sep 25, 2021

Michele Jaquis was raised by the Ashkenazi Jews on her mother’s side of the family, yet shares a last name and appearance more closely associated with the French-Canadian Catholics on her father’s side. In the wake of the xenophobic politics of recent years, with each new violent act, Jaquis has felt pulled between two extreme impulses; on one hand, hiding her and her son’s Jewish heritage, made possible by the ambiguity of her hybridized identity, and, on the other, wanting to fulfill the white supremacist fears (for example, that wealthy Jews funded the so-called migrant caravans at the Southern border) by unapologetically proclaiming her Jewishness and boldly taking in every refugee that she can (though, in reality, her lack of actual wealth and power precludes this ability). Against this backdrop, she has worked instead to create new art with a sense of urgency and the hope that her efforts may foster empathy and compassion, as well as calm her own anxieties about the social-political future of this country. The result of these efforts will hang for the first time all together in window display of the Cerritos College Art Gallery. The work is both a collaboration with the artist’s matrilineal Jewish ancestors and a feminist proclamation of her solidarity with other marginalized groups in an age of increased anti-immigrant, anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, anti-Semitic, and anti-trans violence and legislation, and, of course, the recent backlashes against “wokeness” and Critical Race Theory. In work that has been described as “quiet, persistent screams,” multi-lingual text-based drawings and embroideries feature the statements “We Are Here,” “We Are Here, Together,” “Never Again,” “We Are Not Your Pawns,” and “I feel uncomfortable in all white spaces,” are translated into Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Japanese, and/or Yiddish. Jaquis uses these languages to connect the viewers across generations of immigrants and forced migrants, regardless of their places of origin. The embroideries, in a powerfully symbolic gesture, were created by re-purposing yarn that was unraveled directly from a sleeveless sweater made by Jaquis’ Austrian-American Great-Grandmother, Pauline Zuckerberg Kahn. These pieces will be displayed visibly connected to what is left of the sweater itself. The yarn and canvas are the same color and tonality, emphasizing the need to speak out despite feeling invisible or unheard.

Michele Jaquis is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and academic administrator based in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has been exhibited in alternative spaces, galleries and museums, and film/video festivals across the US, as well as in Australia, Canada, Ireland, England, New Zealand and South Korea. Awards include Best Documentary Short and Best Editing Nominations in the 2019 REEL HeArt International Film and Screenwriting Festival in Toronto, a 2009 Vermont Studio Center Artist Grant, a 2009 Voice Award Nomination sponsored by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Best Documentary in the 2008 Director’s Chair Film Festival in Staten Island, NY.  Jaquis holds an MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design, a BFA in sculpture and experimental studio with a minor in psychology from Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and also studied at Brown University and Burren College of Art. She is also an alumnus of the Institute for Jewish Creativity and Asylum Arts’ Reciprocity Retreat. Currently Associate Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Artists, Community, and Teaching Program at Otis College of Art and Design, Jaquis oversees all undergraduate minors while engaging students in collaborating with each other and various community partners.

Juan Gomez                                              
KEEPERS OF AFFLICTION                   
Sep 26 – Oct 9, 2021 

Juan Gomez’s Keepers of Affliction marks the artist’s ongoing project to visualize the physical and emotional wounds that are inflicted on migrant families, as well as the generational traumas that are also brought to bear upon their descendants. By surfacing, however abstractly, the suffering and loss that comes with geographic and cultural displacement, Gomez hopes to also present art itself as a powerful curative and artmaking, therefore, as an act of redemption and healing. As is often the case in the immigrant experience, personal suffering can too easily be accepted as just a part of the process, forcing the scars of trauma into a suppressed state, only to have them return as further forms of trauma down the line. Both catharsis and cure, Keepers of Affliction presents this repressed suffering as material manifestations of memory, complete with ‘injuries’ made from cotton rounds that are covered with illustrations of scarified keloidal tissue. In doing so, it recognizes that discomfort is a natural reaction to displacement and the embrace of such feelings, rather than their outright rejection, can actually operate as a collective salve, leading ultimately to healthier forms of adaptation and cultural evolution across generations. An exhibition of remembrance, devastation, and emancipation, the installation unites a series of fifteen of these abstract memory objects, each representing the artist’s own immigrant family’s experience of migration (and epigenetic transmigration). Individually, each object holds within it a lineage of struggle, sacrifice, and prosperity. Together, they present a pattern that bonds each to the other, a decentralized network that gives voice to the voiceless and, ideally, heals the very wounds that have been laid bare.

Juan Gomez is a Santa Ana and Long Beach-based mixed-media artist. His work has been exhibited in solo shows at Greenly Art Space and Magoski Art Colony and in group exhibitions at Flatline Gallery, Flux Art Space, SoLA Contemporary, the Huntington Beach Art Center, Irvine Fine Arts Center, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. He holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Cal State Fullerton.


Jason Jenn                                                 
Oct 10 – Oct 23, 2021

Jason Jenn’s a field guide to the timelessness of now is a site-specific installation created from a process of carefully gathering leaves and other plant items from the local environment close to the exhibition site. They are dried and painted with metallic leaf in different patterns, then arranged into custom geometric forms reminiscent of mandalas. They are pinned to the wall, or attached to other materials, based on site-specific conditions. For this new installation at the Cerritos College Art Gallery, Jenn will intuitively create a series of unique shapes and designs to fit the space of the display window. In advance of the installation, Jenn will visit the campus and local community to gather natural materials and return to the studio to adapt for use. There is always an element of surprise that emerges from the process based on the conditions of each location. As Jenn points out, humanity these days is quite disconnected from the natural environment. By creating mandalas, historically meant for spiritual reflection and focus, out of the very natural materials from the surrounding environment, the artist hopes to re-establish a connection between the natural world, the gallery space, and the viewer. Despite its meager size, the complex structure of a leaf is a thing of beauty in and of itself. It inspires many meanings and possibilities. Even in death, the dried form is intimately connected with life. As part of nature's sublime cycle, it will return to the earth via decomposition to feed other forms of life. The metallic leaf on the leaves (a knowing pun) reminds the viewer of nature's divinity and echoes the use of precious metals in holy items throughout numerous cultures. Jenn encourages and invites viewers to develop a unique relationship with these mandalas, whatever form that may take. Whether one slows down to admire the details or has a quick moment to take a selfie, each possesses its own particular merits in this context as both are reinserting themselves into a symbolic reconnection with and appreciation of nature.

Jason Jenn is an interdisciplinary multimedia artist, with various roles as performer, writer, visual artist, director, producer, designer, curator, and video editor. He creates for exhibition on stage, on screen, on the page, in galleries, and at site-specific locations. Selected performance highlights include Ecstasy for Everyone at Vashon Center for the Arts, Rear Opening: A Performance Tribute to the Gutter Art of Stephen Varble at One Archives, and Temptations in Fairyland at Moah:Cedar. Recent curatorial projects and gallery exhibitions include Sanctuary of the Aftermath at Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, Even Sparkles Have Shadows at the Torrance Art Museum, and What Is It About trees at El Camino College Art Gallery. Jenn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film & Media Production and Theater Arts from the University of Iowa.

Heimir Björgúlfsson
Oct 24 – Nov 6, 2021

Heimir Björgúlfsson’s installation, Arctics Are Not For Everyone, exists somewhere between a decorative window display and a vitrine-ensconced cabinet of curiosities. A number of three-dimensional assemblages, recalling both Surrealistic sculptures and rogue taxidermy spectacles, are set against a backdrop of seemingly hand-drawn wallpaper and gaudy pink neon signs. Through their awkward combinations, the sculptural works examine how animal species adapt to changing habitats and endure the effects of urbanization and climate change alike. They also function as a kind of cultural trophy, presented as if products on display in a trendy souvenir shop. The wallpaper consists of black and white illustrations of bird’s feet, as if functioning as a pseudo-Darwinian evolutionary classification system. The scientific stringency of these illustrations are, however, undermined by the neon overlay of a giant pink talon, casting its eerie glow. Another pink neon sign wraps around the corner, presenting various iterations of the phrase arctics are not for everyone, depending on where one happens to be standing. Overall, the installation, presents a purposefully ambiguous take of humanity’s clash with the broader natural environment, embracing the awkwardness of such situations and the coincidental narratives that might take shape from such interactions.

Heimir Björgúlfsson is an Icelandic artist born in Reykjavík and currently living and working in Los Angeles, California. He holds a BFA from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and an MFA from the Sandberg Institute, both in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He also studied Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands. Björgúlfsson has been exhibited in various solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States, such as The Living Art Museum, Reykjavík; Kópavogur Art Museum, Kópavogur, Iceland; Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, Netherlands; W139, Amsterdam; Gemeente Museum, The Hague; Reykjavík Art Museum, Reykjavík; The Biennale for International Light Art, Ruhr, Germany; Stenersen Museum, Oslo; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.


Xavier Cázares Cortéz                                           
A FOREST OF SIGNS [AND SIGNIFIERS]                           
Nov 7 – Nov 20, 2021

In conceiving his Window Dressing installation, It’s Hard to Listen While You Preach: A Forest of Signs [And Signifiers], Xavier Cázares Cortéz started from the playful uncertainty of the term “window dressing” itself. A popular idiom in the common vernacular, “window dressing” implies “a showy misrepresentation intended to conceal something unpleasant, a façade, a deception, or a misrepresentation (a misleading falsehood).” Or, alternately, it can describe, “an adroit but superficial or actually misleading presentation of something, designed to create a favorable impression.” With this framing in mind, Cortéz developed an installation concept that navigates the space between the visible and the invisible. Outwardly, the artist will simply deploy a number of signs of various sizes and medium that will inhabit the gallery display. Rendered in various typefaces, colors, and finishes, this text-based signage will manifest as posters, banners, and other types of stereotypically commercial didactics. However, the viewer will ultimately find the composite and unlikely juxtapositions of texts (inherent in contemporary sign systems) to be a maze of direct and implied meanings.  The dangerous, if exhilarating, power of mis/reading (i.e. decoding) these signs and signifiers transfers the focus from ‘knowing’ the artist’s intentions to an interactive relationship between artist, object, and viewer which generates its own discursive, and therefor inconclusive, kind of legibility.

Xavier Cázares Cortéz has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at various southern California art venues such as the UCR/Sweeney Art Gallery, the Vincent Price Art Museum, the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art, the Fullerton Art Museum, California State San Bernardino, Plaza de la Raza, Self-Help Graphics, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Barnsdall Art Park, and the Palm Springs Art Museum. His work has been shown in commercial art galleries such as Valerie Miller Fine Art, Imago Galleries, Denise Roberge in Palm Desert, and Patricia Correia Gallery in Santa Monica. He has been employed and held numerous artist-in-residencies that combined his art practice with educational programming at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Getty Foundation, the Bowers Museum, Community Art Resources (CARS), HeART Project, the California Arts Project (TCAP) and others. Cortéz has also served recently as a Lecturer in Art History & Film at California State University, San Bernardino (Palm Desert Campus) and UC Riverside Extension.