Mariangeles Soto-Diaz: Gentle Prowess Deliberations August 25, 2022 by grandcentralartcenter MARIANGELES SOTO-DIAZGENTLE PROWESS DELIBERATIONSSeptember 3, 2022 – January 15, 2023a socially engaged artist-in-residence projectPerformance: 8pm, Saturday October 1st, 2022Part of Mariangeles Soto-Diaz’s ongoing artist residency at Grand Central Arts Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, CA, Gentle Prowess Deliberations is the third project in a series in which the artist incorporate judo principles and elements into art objects, installations, performances and social practice with her judo community. This project focuses on ju, or gentle, one of the core concepts of judo. The work also grapples with the ongoing reality of violence, including the violence that has led to over six million people leaving the artists native country of Venezuela in recent years. How does one practice ju in a world shaped by oppressive violence?While growing up in Venezuela, Soto-Dia’s judo teachers were intent on transmitting judo’s international sensibility as intertwined with its pacifist ethos, a key principle articulated by judo founder Jigoro Kano. Through these early experiences, Mariangeles was able to begin the philosophical and rhetorical quest into what this might mean as one confronts a powerful opponent, institution, or system. For this project,the artist approaches ju in several ways. She asked judo colleagues and teachers from two different dojos, Bunasawakai and Sawtelle, to characterize ju in their own words, and then incorporated their answers into aspects of the performance and installation. She weaves into the performance movements from a choreographed judo form that centers around ju, called ju-no-kata, performed here by US National champions Lee Pasteris and Frederick Dagdagan. Soto-Diaz incorporates judo movements performed by two of her sensei, grand master Sensei Nori Bunasawa and Sensei Goya. In addition to these four highly ranked master judokas, the artist is collaborating in the performance with dancer, choreographer and UCI professor Charlotte Griffin and art performer Christina Segovia. The evening will include field recordings from judo competitions at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo as well as the US, with live and processed sound in collaboration with musician Michael Dessen. Performance will take place within the installation of art objects that has created in the Project Gallery of GCAC, ABOUT THE ARTISTMariangeles Soto-Diaz [US/VE] began her art and judo studies in her native Venezuela, the once-promising oil-and-abstraction-producing nation that has become one of the most unstable and violent countries in the world. In her recent work, Soto-Diaz has merged her judo and creative practices to explore the dynamics of power and vulnerability. Moving across traditional art categories, she creates multilayered projects that are at once political and personal, with a nomadic conceptual practice based on relational self-determination.Soto-Diaz’s work has been exhibited at the Orange County Museum of Art, the SUR:Biennial, the Everywoman’s Biennial (London/NY), 18th Street Art Center, MAK Center for Art and Architecture, MASS MoCA, El Museo del Barrio in NYC, the Stanley Museum, the Fullerton Museum of Art, and the Wignall Museum, among other venues. She began her art studies at the Federico Brandt School of Art in Caracas, and holds a BA in Psychology and Art from Hampshire College, an MA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MFA from Claremont Graduate University. When not in lockdown, she trains at Bunasawa’s Dojo in Costa Mesa and at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo.