The series has been a way for me to connect with artists and creative individuals during the pandemic. Photographing visual arts and other creative folks has been really inspiring and the series includes artists I admire, like Mary Kelly and Ron Athey. Art historians like Amelia Jones and Nizan Shaked whose work I have taught, and dancers like Kevin Williamson and Jonny Leggz whose explorations of motion were amazing to try to capture, and so many others.
The Profiled Series began while a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute where I photographed every bust at the Getty Center and Getty Villa as a way of thinking about race and diversity in museums. It was also a way of thinking about the construction of whiteness as a racial imaginary, in that objects in museums's may function very differently than in their original culture or context. The series is ongoing and consists of photographic documentation of race and difference from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. I have also visited a number of scientific collections and am looking at the way objects and their display have been used to educate, and thus shape, our understanding of human difference.
In the Erased Lynching Series I researched 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. The research generated two bodies of artwork, The Erased Lynching series in which I removed the victims from historic lynching images in order to make visible the social dynamics of whiteness and racial formation that made such acts possible in the first place. The second series was Searching for California Hang Trees, which has its own page on this site.
Constellations is a series of digitally constructed clusters that consider the history of object classification in museums and historical disciplines in order to imagine a decolonial future where objects, cultures, and races, emerge in new ways. Many of the works in this series where photographed at museums in the US and Europe with many coming from LACMA. This installation was created for Freize New York 2019 and includes elements that will also be included in the new LA Metro Wilshire/Fairfax station scheduled to open in 2024.
These drawings look at the history of conquest and colonization in the Americas but unlike the original sources images, in these works, the conquistadores and indigenous peoples have been removed to invite further consideration of the history and legacies of settler colonialism on indigenous cultures, on the land, and in the formation of what scholar Claudia Rankine has termed, the white imaginary.
The drawings in Another Land were redrawn from a collection of original paintings, drawings, and prints that were included in the first exhibition on lynching in the United States entitled, An Art Commentary on Lynching, held at the Arthur U. Newton Galleries in New York City from February 15 through March 2, 1935. It was organized by Walter White, NAACP.
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. Those images appear on a separate project page.
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 Searching for California Hang Trees I 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. Works from this series were recently acquired by MoCA and the Getty.
The Los Angeles lynching sites walking tour grew out of my book, Lynching in the West 1850-1935 (Duke 2006) and was made with the help of GIS technology.
In this self-guided tour visitors can visit a number of historic sites which remain hidden from historical view as many Angelinos and visitors to Los Angeles remain unaware of the history of lynching of Latinos in Los Angeles, and nationwide. The tour also includes sites associated with the Chinese Massacre, and Frontier Justice.
For Memento Mori I cast Latino men (and others) to stand in for California's many Latinx lynching victims, a history which was first brought to light with the publication of my monograph, Lynching in the West: 1850-1935 (Duke, 2006) which documents over 350 cases of lynching in California. In California, Latinos, African Americans, Asians, Native Americans, were all lynched, but Latinos represented the largest group at over 40% of the total case list.
This page includes a wide range of permanent and temporary public art installations. I have also included a number of billboard and temporary installations, which were amazing to see up, but only existed for short time. This page will also include two new permanent projects that are currently slated to open in 2024. One for LA Metro at the new Wilshire/Fairfax station across from LACMA, and the other work for Sound Transit in downtown Redmond, Washington.
Search the website for works by Ken Gonzales-Day
Gonzales-Day received his MFA at UC Irvine; MA in Art History at Hunter College; was a Van Leer Fellow in the Whitney Museum’s ISP program and has has been a Senior Fellow at the Smithsonian AAM, The Terra Foundation in Giverny, The Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, IT, and was a SARF Fellow at the Smithsonian NPG. Other fellowships and awards include, Creative Capital, Art Matters, COLA, California Community Foundation, and a Guggenheim in 2017.
His work has been exhibited at: The Getty; LACMA; The Santa Barbara Museum; The Smithsonian; The New Museum; LAXART; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Generali Foundation, Vienna; The Tamayo in Mexico City, among many 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 and is represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.