Background: Renée Petropoulos, From the United States to Mexico V/XVI (2013). Lithograph/monotype, edition of 16. 17 ½ x 22 inches. Image courtesy of Renée Petropoulos and Francesco X. Siqueiros. © Renée Petropoulos.

B.A.T. State III: Women Artists in Conversation with El Nopal Press at the Kleefeld Contemporary September 9 – November 14

B.A.T. State III presents a diverse body of prints by women artists from the archives of El Nopal Press in Los Angeles. Co-curators Anita Bunn and Francesco X. Siqueiros engage themes of artistic representation and political activism while they examine how the evolution of printmaking is influenced by the cultural and geographic border between California and Mexico. Selected artworks are drawn from the span of production at the press and highlight the alchemy of printmaking, with pieces that range from the traditional to the experimental.

Siqueiros and Bunn cultivate the idea of the border as a cultural crossing, a demarcation of space, and geographical location in this exhibition. The 37 artists selected for B.A.T. State III trace trajectories of influence, tension, and overlap that build an interconnected web of artistic production in Mexico and California from the early 1990s to the present. Through this mapping of relationships, the border becomes a metaphor for a state of mind, a differentiation process, and a site for hybridization in a conversation about transnational topography.

This selection of prints is also a temporal record chronicling three generations of iconic artistic practice. From Judith Baca’s reminders about the past and displacement (1993) to Analia Saban’s works wherein ink becomes the language (2019), El Nopal Press has become a space where emerging, experimental, political, and conceptual works from the past 29 years give shape to a living, historical archive. Siqueiros shares, “I am pleased to witness the work of women artists that have collaborated with El Nopal Press, with all their openness, to produce this great display of prints.” The 87 works in this exhibition are a testament to the power and possibility of the press.

El Nopal Press is an independent creative space where ideas around the border coexist, activate conversation, and build understanding. The press has published limited edition prints for nearly three decades, recording the complex flux of ideas between mostly Los Angeles and Mexico City artists. With its experimental and collaborative environment, it produces artwork that is dedicated to the artists’ individual ideas and expressions. El Nopal Press instills respect for master printmaking while it seeks international recognition for artists who are a part of its creative enterprise.

Artists of B.A.T. State III:
Lisa Adams, Judith F. Baca, Judie Bamber, Marietta Bernstorff, Susan Bolles, Mariana Botey, Anita Bunn, Carolyn Castaño, Yreina D. Cervántez, Emily Cheng, Chelsea Dean, Sandra de la Loza, Pia Elizondo, Yanieb Fabre, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Elsa Flores, Diane Gamboa, Silvia Gruner, Sherin Guirguis, Shirley Jaffe, Annie Lapin, Laurie Lipton, Dominique Liquois, Mara Lonner, Rocío Maldonado, Rebecca Morales, Ruby Osorio, Renée Petropoulos, Daniela Rossell, Analia Saban, Susan Silton, Linda Stark, Marika Echachis Swan, Laureana Toledo, Alison Walker, Marion Wesson, and Liat Yossifor

About the Curators:
Francesco X. Siqueiros has been an artist active in the Los Angeles art scene since the mid-1980s, establishing himself as a master printer at Cirrus Editions. During a trip to visit colleagues in Mexico City, he was struck by the level of artistic collaboration and genuine communication between artists. It prompted him to propose an artistic exchange between artists in Los Angeles and Mexico, that resulted directly in the 1990 exhibition, Aquí y Allá (Here and Over There) at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, which he co-curated with Gabriela Cortines. Siqueiros received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1993, which allowed him to dedicate more time to El Nopal Press to facilitate conversation between the two nations. Since that time, the conceptual focus of El Nopal has remained to underline the heterogeneity of cultural production and question the hegemony the current dominant cultural perspectives. Siqueiros’s own work as a painter and printmaker has been exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Mexico, and Paris, among other locations.

Anita Bunn has made Los Angeles her home for more than 30 years. She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design in 1990 and her MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2007. Bunn is an artist and adjunct instructor of photography at several colleges and universities. She has exhibited in solo shows and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally, and has developed a variety of local curatorial projects. Her artwork is in many public and private collections, including the Wallace Annenberg Department of Photography at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Capital Group, Los Angeles.

This article was released by the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum.