Ken Gonzales-Day's interdisciplinary and conceptually grounded projects consider the history of photography, the construction of race, and the limits of representational systems ranging from the lynching photograph to museum display.
In Searching for California Hang Trees the artist set out to look for and photograph possible sites where lynchings may have occurred and helped to reshape thinking around what has come to known as aftermath photography, and to raise awareness of California's history of lynching.
Run Up was created as a short film that portrayed a historical scene from California's history of lynching and was exhibited with contemporary images taken in the aftermath of the police shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, to draw parallels with California's historical past.
The Ferguson and Los Angeles series were photographed in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and remain poignant reminders of the emergence of the Black Lives Matters movement and its greater impact on the Ferguson community, as revealed in street scenes which record the turbulent events of this important historical moment.
In the Erased Lynching Series Gonzales-Day looked to the history of lynching in the American West and published the first comprehensive study on the lynching of Latinos, Chinese, and Native Americans in California. In the resulting artwork, Gonzales-Day removed the victims from historic lynching images in order to foreground the mechanisms of whiteness and racial oppression that made such a history possible in the first place.
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Gonzales-Day received his MFA from UC Irvine; MA in Art History from Hunter College; was a Van Leer Fellow at the Whitney Museum’s ISP. He has been a Senior Fellow at American Art and a SARF Fellow at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institutions. Gonzales-Day was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography in 2017.
His photographs have been exhibited at: The J. Paul Getty Museum; LACMA; The Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery; The New Museum; REDCAT; LAXART; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Generali Foundation, Vienna; Museum of the City, Mexico City, among others. His Books include Lynching in the West: 1850-1935(Duke) and Profiled (LACMA).
Gonzales-Day is The Fletcher Jones Chair in Art at Scripps College and is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.