Must’ve been a wake-dream: Guadalupe Rosales The Gordon Parks Foundation, Pleasantville, New York

September 6 through October 18, 2019


Pleasantville, NY – The Gordon Parks Foundation will mount a solo exhibition of the work of artist and archivist Guadalupe Rosales this fall. The exhibition was developed as part of Rosales’ work as a recipient of the 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship and reflects her frequent collaborations with Latinx and LGBTQ communities to examine the interplay between photography and community. Must’ve been a wake-dream will be on view at the Foundation’s exhibition space from September 6 through October 18, 2019 and is free and open to the public. Also on view during Must’ve been a wake-dream will be a group of Gordon Parks’ photographs, selected by Rosales, from Parks’ celebrated Harlem Gang Leader series, made as the first African-American photographer for Life magazine in 1948. The exhibition opens with an artist reception including a performance by Rafa Esparza and a reading by Gabriel Rivera on September 6, from 6 to 8 pm; it is free and open to the public.

“Just as Gordon Parks used the arts to create a better world, Guadalupe’s archival project utilizes photography to tell new stories that bring visibility to a culture and community that faces injustice,” said Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Executive Director of The Gordon Parks Foundation, “We are proud to support Guadalupe’s artistic and social practice through the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship, including providing a platform for her work through this exhibition.” 

Recognized as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Parks showed the face of American poverty with empathy and respect, using the arts to champion social change. Recalling Gordon Parks’ legacy, Rosales said, “My work with archives, like Gordon Parks’ photographs and writing, counters forces of xenophobia, racism and injustice that are perpetrated by mainstream society. I see myself continuing Parks’ charge through my work, collecting and broadcasting the voices of my community.”

Through her careful collecting, preservation and presentation of vernacular photographs, letters, party flyers and ephemera representing Latinx Southern California youth culture, Rosales creates an expanding archive that brings visibility to a community that has been overlooked, misrepresented and criminalized. Through her collaboration and engagement, she forms empowering counter-narratives that resonate in the public memory. Rosales describes her work as “…about paying respect, preserving, honoring, and decriminalizing youth subculture,” and “about unlearning, relearning, and reexamining our history as youth in So Cal. 

Must’ve been a wake-dream expands Rosales’ archive through the activation of images, objects and ephemera into a hybrid installation that echoes obsessively decorated teenage bedrooms, and underground parties—both spaces in which Los Angeles area teenagers found refuge from the trepidations of gang violence, the 1992 L.A. Riots, and California Proposition 187. In an installation consisting of layers of photographs, party flyers, and a custom-made “go-go box,” Rosales poses questions about the legitimacy of the “Latina SoCal youth” experience. The exhibition also features works by Rosales in collaborations with fellow artists, including a triptych by Los Angeles photographer Paul Mpagi Sepuya in response to Rosales’ archive that explores perceptions of the body and the apparatus of the camera and archive. Artist Gabriel Rivera’s contribution speaks to the exhibition’s more difficult issues – death, grief, trauma, longing – in the form of an intimate reading in response to Rosales’ ongoing altar dedicated to those who she has lost in gang violence.

Since 2017, the Foundation has granted two Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowships each year to support photographers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians in the development and exhibition of new and ongoing projects. Applications are reviewed on the merit of their quality, creativity, and the project’s potential to contribute to the legacy of Gordon Parks—through its exploration of themes of representation and social justice, or its engagement with the role of Parks in the artistic, social, historical, or cultural events of his time. During the fellowship period, fellows serve as ambassadors on behalf of the Foundation and promote the legacy of Gordon Parks, including participation in a wide range of Foundation initiatives and programs throughout the year, and contribution of an artwork to the Foundation’s permanent collection. In addition to Rosales, Hank Willis Thomas was selected as a 2019 Fellow.