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.

With Profiled, the artist set out to examine the different forms of bias and exaggeration in depictions of race and whiteness in the Academies of Arts and Sciences of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

With Constellations Gonzales-Day creates a series of constellations or clusters which draw our attention to the ways that objects, cultures, and races, have been ordered and categorized in museums display from the nineteenth century to the present.

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 opression that made such a history possible in the first place.

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.

For Memento Mori Gonzales-Day cast Latino men (and others) to stand in for California’s many lynching victims,  a history which was first brought to light with the publication of his first monograph, Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 (Duke, 2006).

For Surface Tension, the artist documented thousands of murals in Los Angeles as a part of the Getty’s second Pacific Standard Time initiative LA/LA (Latin America/Los Angeles) creating a unique portrait of the city.

The Bone-Grass Boy: The Secret Banks of the Conejos River was part of the Getty’s second Pacific Standard Time initiative LA/LA (Latin America/Los Angeles) and allowed audiences to explore an elaborate world in which the artist played all the of the characters, parts of which had not been displayed for nearly twenty years.

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.

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