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Fine Arts Alumnus Eduardo Sarabia Awarded Mike Kelley Foundation Grant

Eduardo Sarabia receives the Mike Kelley Foundation Grant
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Launched in June of last year, the Artist Project Grants seek to further Mike Kelley’s philanthropic work and honour his legacy by supporting innovative projects with visual artists at L.A. non-profit institutions and organisations. The goal is to benefit both visual artists and arts organizations alike and to support compelling and inventive projects in any medium, particularly work that is under-known, or has proven difficult to make or to fund.

The 2016 grant recipients include both established and new organizations, and their projects represent a diverse mix of media and content. The supported works range from a series of new commissions by members of the Echo Park Film Center Co-Op, honouring their unsung efforts at this unique volunteer- driven organization, to a collaboration with artist Rosten Woo and Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) on how zoning codes disenfranchise Downtown communities.

“Since 1985, we’ve been making art that connects the experience of people living in poverty in the Skid Row community to the social forces that shape their lives, in other words, creating citizen artist witnesses," explained LAPD Founding Artistic Director John Malpede. “With the Kelley Foundation grant we’ll be addressing new threats to the area’s hard won affordable housing, inviting both new and old residents of a quickly gentrifying Downtown to examine, question, and imagine how decisions get made and how our city gets created.”

The Mistake Room will bring Los Angeles-born, Guadalajara-based Eduardo Sarabia back to the city for an innovative survey show that will weave together the artist’s previous projects in a complex narrative video and installation environment. The project’s deeply self-reflective nature will provide Sarabia with a rare and risky opportunity—a chance to explore in-depth the meaning and relevance of his artistic work to date.

Raised in East Los Angeles and now based in Guadalajara, Eduardo Sarabia explores complex moments of cultural contact, using storytelling, mythology, popular culture, music, spirituality, and social conventions as metaphors for broader geopolitical contexts. His “survey” show in September 2017 at The Mistake Room will take the form of a narrative video that will bring together all of the artist’s previous projects and characters in a series of interconnected stories. Sarabia will collaborate with an architect to transform TMR into a series of theatrical vignettes—a Mayan temple, a bar, a jungle in Southern Mexico, and a Border Patrol interrogation room—in which the objects and edited versions of the video will be installed.

“This project will be the boldest endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, both formally and conceptually, bringing together ten years of work and five years of research in a new kind of 'total artwork,’” said Sarabia. “It's not an easy project, and without the fearless support of The Mistake Room and now the generous grant from the Kelley Foundation, I don’t think it would be feasible at all. I'm so grateful and excited."


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Image: Installation View of Eduardo Sarabia at Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico, 2014. © Eduardo Sarabia, 2016. Photo courtesy of the artist and The Mistake Room, Los Angeles.


Eduardo Sarabia ('99 Fine Arts), born in L.A., lives in Berlin and Guadalajara. His work honors and mocks his Latino heritage through exposing Mexican cultural clichés about drug smuggling, banditry, and the import/export of tawdry contraband. He stages semifictional events, for which he creates the fake evidence: handcrafted ceramic objects, drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculptures.