Alicia Rojas: With Honey in the Mouth – Con Miel en la Boca
May 6 – September 10, 2023
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 6 from 7-10pm
With Honey in the Mouth – Con Miel en la Boca examines the synchronicities between honeybees and human-forced migration journeys.
Honeybees are required to sustain our global ecosystem. The synchronicities between bees, their dancing patterns, and pollination exemplify purpose through collective work. Migratory pollination has become essential to agriculture in many regions as pesticides have ravaged native pollinators. Like many parallel migration stories, bees and humans continue to expand their territories for the survival of their colonies. The labor of these groups is often exploited, forced to work the land to support food production for the betterment of others, all while remaining responsible for nurturing next generations and contributing to their communities.
The initial concept for the works in the gallery comes from the artist’s personal experience of growing up around bees as a child in her elementary school in her native country of Colombia, where she learned to follow the bees’ example of service to humanity as they provide a model for human potential – the ideals to transcend and give meaning beyond one’s own existence. The stories of women in Alicia’s family and their migration journey from Colombia have inspired the artist, expressed through the collaborative process and values demonstrated throughout this exhibition.
Generated over a two-year artist-in-residence with GCAC, the resulting works include beeswax sculptures formed in collaboration with the eight active bee colonies placed in the artist’s Santa Ana backyard; photography and video works created with the assistance of SteadyJenny in Santa Ana and Colombia; a sculptural installation created with original hive boxes; and a sound work composed through Alicia’s first collaboration with her son Gabriel Lopez Rojas.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alicia Rojas is a Colombian-born artist living in Orange County, CA. She participates in movements for immigrant rights, anti-gentrification, social and economic equity, and ecology. Alicia’s artistic practice started as an exploration of self-expression and healing, which led her to paint almost 100 self-portraits in one year. Her practice has a collaborative and storytelling process in which paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and murals are not the final result but rather part of her art-making pedagogy. Her work contributes to the historical memory of the collective and facilitates placemaking within communities of color.
The artist is a California Arts Council, Established Artists Fellow grantee. She has received funding from the City of Santa Ana Arts and Culture Department, Community Engagement, and local non-profits. She is the Director and Co-founder of the Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition, an organization founded to connect local artists to their communities collaboratively to create art that transforms public spaces, generates civic engagement, and promotes personal and social change. Rojas was a founding member of the City of Santa Ana arts steering committee and a participant in the Occupy movement.
Grand Central Art Center and the artist wish to thank Alejandro Soto with the Bee Army, SteadyJenny (Film/media), Frank Molnar, Joshua-Michéle Ross, Court Price, and Don Oscar Castelblanco Beekeeper in San Agustin, Colombia, for their support in helping us to realize the exhibition. The artist celebrates the first collaboration with her son Gabriel Lopez Rojas, a musician who assisted with the sound arrangement for this exhibition.
Alicia Rojas’ Grand Central Art Center Artist-in-Residence is supported, in part, by a grant to our institution provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.