SFMOMA lifted the veil on a new group exhibition that celebrates the legacy of lowrider car culture. Entitled Sitting on Chrome, the show will present works by artists Mario Ayala, Guadalupe Rosales and Rafa Esparza, along the institution’s second floor galleries, as well as a collaborative mural specially created for the exhibition.
Rather than divide each room to one specific artist, the exhibition is laid out in a way to reflect the intersectional ideas and experiences between each artist. Wrapped in a series of connotations and histories, the lowrider has been a cultural icon since the second half of the 20th century, particularly in Latino communities in California, Texas and the Southwest and popularized in music videos and films, from Cypress Hill to Boyz n the Hood.
Through her multimedia set of installations, Rosales hopes that there is an understanding of “lowrider culture as this patriarchal super-hyper masculine environment that starts to feel like it excludes certain people,” while she seeks to subvert these unspoken norms to create a sanctuary of sorts, where people of all walks can revel in the artistry of the community.
In one of his latest paintings, Ayala brings the focus to the Bay Area, where the exhibition is being held, by showcasing the back of a Toyota Prius, overlaid by Mexican-American motifs that are made to reflect the hybrid visual identity of San Francisco. While some see cars as an extension of their own bodies, Esparza took that idea one step further by working with Ayala to create a cyborg vehicle featuring his own appearance, which helped him “imagine what this inner species encounter” could look like if I were to become a car,” noted Esparza.
Filled with paintings, sculptures, installations and photographs, Sitting on Chrome evokes the experience of lowriding, while opening up new dialogues with the culture that include self-authored histories, queer experiences, the threats of surveillance and the relationship between humans and machines. The exhibition opened today and will be on view until February 19, 2024.
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