Gabriel Barcia-Colombo selected as The Neon Museum’s 2021 Artist in Residence
Acclaimed mixed media artist, Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, will be the 2021 Artist in Residence (AIR) at The Neon Museum. Now in its sixth year, the Neon Museum’s residency program invites artists to interpret the collection in unique and new ways, supporting the museum’s mission to cultivate the arts and further cultural enrichment.
During his residency at The Neon Museum, Barcia-Colombo plans to investigate how technology and light influences and impacts memory by creating a series of sculptures inspired by the neon signs in the Neon Boneyard. He envisions his sculptures taking the form of Nicho boxes, three-dimensional shadow boxes traditionally found in Mexican folk art that are used as portable shrines to important figures or loved ones. He references his previous interactive video sculpture “Animalia Chordata” as an inspiration.
“I’m interested in creating video sculpture Neon Nicho boxes featuring the modern day ‘saints’ of Las Vegas,” said Barcia-Colombo in his residency proposal. “Each Nicho box will be a living video sculpture lit up by a neon frame featuring a Las Vegas resident transforming into the role of a recognized saint.” Featured residents will be identified by him during his residency.
Barcia-Colombo also expressed enthusiasm for the residency’s public engagement component, proposing talks about his creative practice and workshops on modern technological mediums that he uses, including projection mapping, augmented reality, and video art. Building on the museum’s existing interactive elements, including the immersive 360-degree light and sound show Brilliant! and the virtual self-guided tours, Barcia-Colombo added, “I believe there is a real opportunity to connect The Neon Museum with the future of media art.”
“The Neon Museum offers an unparalleled exhibition of neon signage that showcases the convergence of art and history, and I am excited by Gabriel’s ideas to leverage our collection as inspiration for innovative and interactive light-based works of art that spark conversation and broaden a viewer’s perspective on art,” said Aaron Berger, executive director of the Neon Museum.
In selecting Barcia-Colombo, esteemed 2021 guest AIR juror, filmmaker Robin Greenspun, said, “His work spoke to me immediately. His concepts clearly will be a bridge between the historic nature of The Neon Museum collection and the compelling technology he uses to create his work. His proposal for the residency – the fact that he will feature iconic people and present them to start conversations and learn more – is in many ways what The Neon Museum does through the collection. I think he is skilled in all the ways necessary to make his residency a clear success. He has extensive knowledge when it comes to public engagement, his concepts will push the envelope for some viewers but in a good way, and he clearly has the technical skills to back up what he proposes.”
Selected from more than 100 high-quality and diverse candidates, Barcia-Colombo will begin his residency in December as a hybrid virtual/in-person program with plans for him to work and reside at the high-rise condominium Juhl in downtown Las Vegas in early 2022. The program will also offer opportunities for public engagement to benefit residents and museum visitors. Additional details on residency programming and scheduling will be announced in the future. Additional details on residency programming and scheduling will be announced in the future.
The Neon Museum National Artist Residency (AIR) is designed to expand the interpretive potential of the museum collection. Each year, a selected artist, working in the fields of digital, performance or visual arts, has the opportunity to develop a project inspired by The Neon Museum collection. The residency program also includes community engagement, such as workshops, artist talks, and studio open houses. Resident artists are selected by a dedicated jury team from the museum’s staff, including an invited community arts leader in the role of guest juror each year.
Gabriel Barcia-Colombo is a mixed media artist whose work focuses on collections, memorialization, and the act of leaving one’s digital imprint for the next generation. His work takes the form of video sculptures, immersive performances, large scale projections and vending machines that sell human DNA. His work plays upon this modern exigency in our culture to chronicle, preserve and wax nostalgic, an idea which Barcia-Colombo renders visually by “collecting” human portraits on video.
Barcia-Colombo was commissioned to be the first digital artist to show work at the New Fulton Terminal Stop with the MTA Arts & Design program in New York City. His work has been featured in the Volta, Scope, and Art Mrkt art fairs, Victoria & Albert Museum as well as Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library. He received an Art and Technology grant from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where he created “The Hereafter Institute” that questions the future of death rituals and memorials and their relationship to technology and is part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Barcia-Colombo served on the artist advisory board at the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as the education committee member at the Museum of Art and Design. In 2012, he gave a TED talk entitled “Capturing Memories in Video Art,” and in 2014 he gave another entitled “My DNA Vending Machine” and was awarded a Senior TED fellowship. He is a New York Foundation for the Arts grant awardee, a 2021 recipient of the Brown Institute Fellowship at Columbia University, and Associate Arts Professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
ABOUT THE NEON MUSEUM
Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. It has been ranked No. 1 in Las Vegas Weekly’s list of “Twenty Greatest Attractions in Las Vegas History,” one of “Sin City’s Best Retro Sites” by MSN, “No. 1 Las Vegas Museum Sure to Entertain and Educate” by USA Today’s 10best.com, “One of the Top 10 Coolest Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do” by Forbes.com, one of the “Top 10 Historic Spots in Las Vegas” by Vegas.com; one of “15 Most Fascinating Museums in the U.S.” by VacationIdea.com; and earns a consistent 4.5 out of 5 rating on TripAdvisor. On its 2.27-acre campus, The Neon Museum houses an outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard (“boneyard” is traditionally the name for an area where items no longer in use are stored); the North Gallery, home to the immersive audiovisual spectacle “Brilliant!” which uses technology advances to re-illuminate more than 40 non-operational signs; the Boulevard Gallery outdoor exhibit and event space; and its visitors’ center, housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby. The museum collection also includes nine restored signs installed as public art throughout downtown Las Vegas. Public education, outreach, research, and arts preservation represent a selection of the museum’s ongoing projects. The museum is located at 770 N. Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas. For more information, including tour schedules and tickets, visit www.neonmuseum.org. Also follow @NeonMuseum on Facebook and Twitter and @theneonmuseumlasvegas on Instagram.