Pato Hebert at the California Biennial

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Text Messaging: 1,000 Points of Might

Visitors to the California Biennial (on view at the Orange County Museum of Art through March 15) view a cacophony of yard signs, similar to some busy intersections in the weeks prior to elections, as they approach the museum. Yet rather than showcasing the names of candidates, the signs contain phrases such as “Ingenuity is a form of survival,” “I feel vulnerable when I’m lied to,” and “We’re most honest when it’s too late.”

This installation, Text Messaging: 1,000 Points of Might by Los Angeles artist Patrick “Pato” Hebert, represents an important approach in Hebert’s work that often involves the participation of others, either during the creation of the work or in the activation of the work after it has been installed. The texts on these signs, for example, were created when Hebert presented prompts to different groups of young adults throughout Southern California.

Last year Hebert also initiated a text-based and participant-driven project with Plasencia Elementary School as part of Art Programs with the Community: LACMA On-Site. Following a series of conversations at the school, students and teachers responded to prompts to share their ideas about the school, their homes, and art. A selection of their thoughts was compiled as a t-shirt design; the t-shirts were then distributed to the Plasencia community during their arts festival last June.

Student wearing limited edition t-shirt and making a sun print photograph during workshop, June, 2008

Student wearing limited edition t-shirt and making a sun print photograph during workshop, June, 2008

As Hebert and Plasencia teachers discuss additional ways to grow their project, LACMA works such as Valeska Soares’s Untitled (Sin título) and Stuart Davis’s Premier are touchstones for discussing ways artists use text and how students develop connections with letterforms and words.

Valeska Soares, Untitled (Sin titulo), 2005, purchased with funds provided by Andrew Hauptman

Valeska Soares, Untitled (Sin título), 2005, purchased with funds provided by Andrew Hauptman

Stuart Davis, Premiere, 1957, Museum Purchase, Art Museum Council Fund

Stuart Davis, Premiere, 1957, Museum Purchase, Art Museum Council Fund

Elizabeth Gerber, Manager of School and Teacher Programs

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