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Miguel Angel Rios wants you to view his art at ASU with an open mind

"Piedras Blancas" by Miguel Angel Rios

"Piedras Blancas," by artist Miguel Angel Rios, is a visual project that involved Rios throwing ceramic spheres down a mountainside and documenting on camera.

September 09, 2015

Miguel Angel Rios doesn’t mind if you love or hate his art, he just wants you to view it with an open mind.

“Art has many different levels of understanding and interpretation. It doesn’t bother me at all if someone doesn’t like my work as long as they have their own interpretation and feel something,” said the 72-year-old Mexico City-based artist.

Well, people will get a chance to feel as his show “Miguel Angel Rios: Landlocked” will open Sept. 12 in the ASU Art Museum and remain up through Dec. 26.

An opening reception for “Landlocked” will be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Sept. 11, with Rios present. The event is free and open to the public.

The exhibition is a video survey that follows Rios’ journey into an artistic practice which addresses issues of power, migration, apathy and violence. His work incorporates social and political narratives and state-of-the-art production techniques. Four of these pieces will be exhibit exclusives as the museum commissioned the works.

“Landlocked” is part of the Contact Zones series of exhibitions at the ASU Art Museum which focuses on contemporary migration and its intricate uncertainties within border culture. The series includes new commission-based installations, public engaged programs, guest-curated exhibitions and artist initiated projects.

“These new works are very much site-specific and grounded in a new approach to land art,” said ASU Art Museum curator Julio Cesar Morales. “Rios challenges traditional modes of representations within landscape.”

Rios has been challenging traditions ever since he became an artist, which he says commenced when he was “in the womb.” He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has received numerous awards including the John Guggenheim Fellowship for his work exploring the mediums of painting, drawing and collage.

At the height of his career in the late 1990s, Rios put down the paintbrush and picked up a video camera, pushing the boundaries of an emerging art genre — like a 5-minute video called “The Ghost of Modernity” in which Rios uses a Plexiglas box as a “prism of privilege” to view the streets and landscapes of Mexico City.

“I’m constantly exploring different genres and video seems to have stuck with me for the last 15 years,” Rios said. “There are a lot of movements that go on with video that you cannot get in a drawing or painting. It’s like a small movie and outdoor space becomes the landscape. I can then use the landscape for any metaphor I wish to convey.”

In addition to the video installation, a portion of the exhibition is dedicated to Rios’ creative process, intended to give viewers a glimpse into the mind of the artist. The “studio of curiosities” includes research materials, photographs, works on paper, storyboards, production ephemera and video documentaries on the making of some of Rios’ most acclaimed works.

For more information about Landlocked, call 480-965-2787 or visit