Common Ground#633

Land of the Free

Featuring Hugo Crosthwaite, Vincent Valdez, Irene Mei Zhi Shum, and Jessica Holmes


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Curator Irene Mei Zhi Shum and artists Hugo Crosthwaite and Vincent Valdez join Rail ArTonic Editor Jessica Holmes for a conversation. We conclude with a poetry reading by Yesenia Montilla.

In this talk

Visit Land of the Free on view at Mana Contemporary through September 17, 2022 →

Hugo Crosthwaite

Black and white photo of Hugo Crosthwaite
Allowing the act of drawing to organically dictate his compositions in works that range from intimate drawings to large scale murals, Hugo Crosthwaite juxtaposes a wide range of textural and tonal ranges against spaces that alternate from dense and atmospheric to flat and graphic. His subjects—the everyday men, women and children that populate the border region of San Diego/Tijuana—are presented in a non-idealized documentary style. Crosthwaite is the 2019 winner of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. He was born 1971 in Tijuana and spent his formative years in Rosarito, Mexico. An American citizen with family on both sides of the border, he lives and works in San Diego, CA and Rosarito, Mexico.

Vincent Valdez

Photo of artist Vincent Valdez
Artist Vincent Valdez creates images as instruments to probe the past in order to reveal an immediacy to what is occurring today, and to remark on a universal struggle within various socio-political arenas and eras. His work has been included in numerous collections across the United States, including Smithsonian Museum, El Museo del Barrio, and many others. He has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Smithsonian’s 2022 National Portrait Award. Valdez’ portrait of his grandparents will be presented in The Outwin 2022: American Portraiture Today, a major exhibition premiering at the National Portrait Gallery on April 30, 2022. The recipient of many awards, Valdez was the 2019 Artadia awardee in Houston, TX.

Irene Mei Zhi Shum

Irene Mei Zhi Shum
Curator Irene Mei Zhi Shum is a highly regarded arts leader and strategist, known for building the operational & programming capacity of arts organizations, organizing ambitious exhibition projects, and championing the artists and designers with whom she works. She is skilled at creating and aligning programming with new initiatives and long-term objectives. Her curatorial practice explores the intersection of art and architecture and specializes in new commissions.

Jessica Holmes

Jessica Holmes
Writer, editor, and critic Jessica Holmes’s writing features regularly in BOMB, Hyperallergic, and The Brooklyn Rail, where she also edits the ArTonic column. Other bylines include Vanity Fair Spain, The Magazine Antiques, and The Woman’s Art Journal. Recent exhibition catalogue contributions include Judith Braun: My Pleasure (Opalka Gallery, Russell Sage College), Ellsworth Ausby: Somewhere in Space, Paintings from the 1960s and 1970s (Eric Firestone Gallery) and Markus Linnenbrink: THEREARESPACESTHATBREATHE (Museum of New Art, Portsmouth). Previously she served as Editor-in-Chief of the arts publication Degree Critical. For nearly two decades, she worked for the Calder Foundation, including 6 years as its Deputy Director.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Yesenia Montilla reading.

Yesenia Montilla

A black and white photo of Yesenia Montilla, with an afro and earrings, eyes closed looking down to the side
Based in Harlem, NY, Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry & Poetry in translation. She is CantoMundo graduate fellow and a 2020 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. Her work has been published in Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast and in Best of American Poetry 2020 and 2021. Her first collection The Pink Box is published by Willow Books & was longlisted for a PEN award. Her second collection Muse Found in a Colonized Body is forthcoming from Four Way Books, 2022.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.