Rafael Cardenas Explores How Angelenos Shape Our Ever-Shifting Communities In New Photo Exhibition

Rafael Cardenas Explores How Angelenos Shape Our Ever-Shifting Communities In New Photo Exhibition

"Landscapes and Land Dwellers: Photography of Place by Rafael Cardenas" Reveals How the Multilayered Environments of Northeast, East, and Downtown Los Angeles Take On A Sense of Place Through Our Lived Experiences

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes presents Landscapes and Land Dwellers: Photography of Place by Rafael Cardenas, an exhibition of new and rarely-exhibited photographs that capture the shifting complexities of LA's Eastside. Composed of 56 full-color photographs as well as video installations and original poetry, visitors will follow the self-taught photographer on a journey exploring northeast, east, and downtown neighborhoods of Los Angeles.

The images demonstrate the intimate relationship between people and place, with photographs grouped in themes of "Gathering," "Motion," "Transition," "Home," and "Night," among others. The Mexican-born, East L.A.-based photographer depicts the city's landscapes as a document bearing cumulative traces of its history, while offering a personal look at the people who live with and contribute to these complicated legacies. The exhibition is on view through March 25, 2019.

"Rafael Cardenas tells stories of the ongoing changes taking place in Los Angeles, as he records his encounters in the streets and neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Highland Park, and downtown," said John Echeveste, CEO of LA Plaza.

"Landscapes and Land Dwellers explores the layers of Los Angeles's landscape, capturing the ways people have inscribed, erased, and re-inscribed its natural and manmade features. His photographs reveal historic contexts, contemporary realities, and states of transition that link the past and the present," said Erin M. Curtis, Ph.D., Senior Curator at LA Plaza and co-curator of the exhibition.

"Cardenas reminds us that the landscapes and land dwellers of Los Angeles are both authors and actors in a history of property politics, from restrictive housing covenants in the early twentieth century to today's gentrification," adds co-curator Mariah Shevchuk, Associate Curator at LA Plaza. "These photographs are particularly meaningful for us at LA Plaza because of their resonance with topics that are explored in LA Plaza's permanent exhibition, LA Starts Here."

"This exhibition is really challenging for me," said Rafael Cardenas. "When I had the opportunity to shoot from a helicopter over LA, it gave me such a broader perspective and a chance to reflect on the larger context of how my documenting of the everyday fits into the larger landscape."

Related Programming

LA Plaza will host a series of free public programs complementing Landscapes and Land Dwellers: Photography of Place by Rafael Cardenas throughout the run of the exhibition.

Roundtable Discussion | Thursday, February 7, 2019 | 7pm

Join Rafael Cardenas, Director of Self-Help Graphics Betty Avila, and prominent artists for a discussion about art and creative processes. Stay for the Q&A!

La Lunada: L.A.'s Landscapes in Notes and Words | Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 7pm
Enjoy a night of music with Los Angeles-based jazz band Hayokaht as well as poetry from a selected group inspired by Rafael Cardenas' photographs.

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