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Four Otis Alumni in Whitney Biennial

OTIS ALUMNI SELECTED FOR 2008 WHITNEY BIENNIAL Patrick Hill, Rubén Ochoa, Eduardo Sarabia and Mario Ybarra to participate in major survey

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 12, 2008) - Four alumni of Otis College of Art and Design - Patrick Hill ('00, MFA), Rubén Ochoa ('97, BFA) Eduardo Sarabia ('99, BFA), and Mario Ybarra ('99, BFA) - have been selected for the 2008 Whitney Museum Biennial. From March 6 through June 1, this exhibition of 81 artists is the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the U.S.


Mario Ybarra draws attention to forms of culture that exist in the margins of the mainstream, examining hidden cultural histories and alluding to or parodying the street culture of the West Coast. His references range from the activities of inmates at Pelican Bay State Prison to a social exploration of the expanding numbers of barbershops across the African-American community. When pegged as a Chicano artist, Ybarra demurs. “I make contemporary art that is filtered through a Mexican-American experience in Los Angeles. It’s not my goal to learn Nahuatl but to speak Cantonese.”


In 2000, after receiving his MFA, Patrick Hill was working to pay the rent, setting up a studio, and surfing. Driving home on the freeway one day, he blacked out and awoke in a hospital, disoriented. The diagnosis: brain tumor. After undergoing invasive brain surgery, and enduring more than a year of intensive chemotherapy, he started over. His work began to take on the immaterial and formless, as well as issues of ghostly shadows, reflection and translucency.  Using materials such as ink, dye, and bleach along with blackberries and blueberries, he creates paintings that seem to release primordial forms and energy. He searches for “the littoral between here and nowhere.” (Bruce Hainley, Artforum)


San Diego native Rubén Ochoa is no stranger to borders and the controversies that surround them. He transformed the tan 1985 van his parents used for their tortilla business into “Class: C,” a nomadic art gallery. Challenging traditional exhibition methods, he brought struggling artists' work to the masses, literally removing art world barriers. More recently, “Class: C’s Vancade, “a 2-D video game inspired by the artist’s van, allows players to sell tortillas and fund art exhibits as they navigate L.A.’s streets. Ochoa’s work was included in the recent 2004 Orange County Museum of Biennial among many other exhibitions.


Eduardo Sarabia smuggles ideas into culture. Highly influenced by the intricate poetics of the black market and northern Mexican folklore, he creates romantic visual narratives that conflate illegal contraband, fine arts and commerce. He hires Mexican craftspeople in Guadalajara to fabricate his work, and smuggles it across the border. The newest entry into his product line is Tequila Sarabia, a line of three kinds of tequila in hand-blown glass bottles with a Guadalajara ceramic stopper. His white Talavera pottery vases, packaged in their own silkscreened box, are decorated with images of cash, parrots, marijuana leaves, prostitutes and other contraband.


Donna De Salvo, the Whitney’s Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs, comments about the upcoming Biennial, "In dealing with the art of the present, there are no easy assessments, only multiple points of entry." President Samuel Hoi concurs, adding that “The social and cultural insights of these four Otis alumni demonstrate their ability to successfully compete in a global environment increasingly built on innovation and creative thinking. Since its establishment in 1918 as Los Angeles’ first independent professional school of art and design, Otis has trained generations of artists who have been in the vanguard of the cultural and entrepreneurial life of the city. Nurtured by Los Angeles’ forward-thinking spirit, the College has produced artists who explore the landscape of popular culture and the significant impact of identity, politics and social policy at the intersection of art and society.”


Otis alumni painters were also well represented in Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight's Sunday, December 2nd piece "45 Painters under 45: Painting gets a Broader Brush." Knight asserts that painting is alive and well in L.A., and features Timothy Tompkins (’03, BFA) and Steve Roden (’86, BFA), along with Kevin Appel (’89, BFA), Michael Brunswick (‘05, MFA), Gajin Fujita (’97, BFA), Sandeep Mukherjee (’96, BFA), and Chad Robertson (’91, BFA).

About Otis

Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design is a national leader in art and design education. The College mission is to prepare diverse students of art and design to enrich our world through their creativity, skill, and vision. Alumni and faculty are Fulbright, MacArthur, and Guggenheim grant recipients, Oscar awardees, legendary costume designers, leaders of contemporary art movements, and design stars at Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, Pixar, DreamWorks, Mattel, Nike, and Disney.
 
Otis enrolls approximately 1,100 full-time students, and offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Architecture/Landscape/Interiors, Digital Media (Game and Entertainment Design, Animation, and Motion Design), Fashion Design, Communication Arts (Graphic Design, Illustration, and Advertising Design), Fine Arts (Painting, Photography, and Sculpture/New Genres), Product Design, and Toy Design.  Otis also awards the Master of Fine Arts degree in Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Public Practice, and Writing.   

The five-acre main campus is located on L.A.’s Westside near the beach and LAX; Fashion Design is in the heart of the downtown fashion district; and the Graduate Studios are on the Creative Corridor in nearby Culver City and in the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.

2,700 adults and children participate in Continuing Education art and design classes and workshops.