March 19 - April 21, 2018

CONTRABAND is a group exhibition of emerging artists curated by George Mason University School of Art alumnus Rodrigo Carazas Portal and featuring work by Jimena Chávez Delion, chukwumaa, Aaron López C., Emilio Vargas Vera and Levester Williams.

The artists in this exhibition confront cultural imperialism by reflecting on the impact that “developed” countries have on the rest of the world through media and commerce. The five participating artists, all of whom were born outside of privileged Western societies, make their art using the language of contraband, bootleg, smuggling and other illegal actions. Their works respond to forces of assimilation, and are intended to subvert and undermine systems of social control. They challenge systems of colonial power that seek to absorb and reproduce others in their own image.

Works in the exhibition are conceptual in nature, relying on objects and images to evoke social conditions from the Global South.

About the Artists

Rodrigo Carazas Portal was born in Lima and raised in the Callao Province of Perú. He attended the Art Program of the Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, and later relocated to the United States of America in 2009. He earned his BFA from George Mason University’s School of Art in 2015. Awarded the Academic Excellence Distinction in Sculpture (2015), he also obtained the Best New Project Prize from Lima’s Biennial Art Fair (Second Edition, 2016). Recent exhibitions include Lima’s Biennial Art Fair (Callao 2016); Revolution/Revelation, Olly Olly Gallery (Fairfax, VA 2017); Local Legends, VisArts (Rockville, MD 2017); Overload, Tokio Galería (Callao 2017); Methods, Brentwood Arts Exchange (Brentwood, MD 2017) and the 14th Annual Transformer Auction, Katzen Arts Center (Washington, DC 2017).

Jimena Chávez Delion is a Peruvian artist born in Lima. She has studied at l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuels de La Cambre in Brussels, Belgium and graduated with Honor in Fine Arts at the Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú (Lima). She had a solo exhibition at Crisis Galería (Lima 2017) and has participated in various collective exhibitions such as: Generación Y, Y gallery (Lima 2017); Projekt Landscape, Designtransfer (Berlin 2017) and HBK Saar gallery (Saarbrücken 2017); Como escapar de um armario, Skrei Arts Division (Porto 2016); Out of office, Louise 186 (Brussels 2016); Untitled, Henry Van de Velde building / La Cambre (Brussels 2015); Exposición de fnalistas del Concurso de Arte Contemporáneo joven de la Municipalidad de Mirafores, Centro Cultural Ricardo Palma (Lima 2014); VI International student triennial, Marmara Üniversitesi and Mixer Gallery (Istanbul 2013); among others. In 2017, she was awarded the Espositivo 7B fellowship program in Madrid.

chukwumaa was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in Prince George's County, Maryland. chukwumaa makes work concerning liminal characters, trickster myths and non-linear narratives. His work takes the form of found and soft sculptures, surreal performances and other media experiments. chukwumaa has exhibited and performed at The Corcoran (Washington D.C), Various Small Fires (Los Angeles) and The Kitchen (New York). He has participated in residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Transformer in DC, Vermont Studio Center and in an assistantship in Chicago under mentor Jefferson Pinder. chukwumaa received a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Aaron López C. studied at the Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú and Corriente Alterna School of Art, from which he graduated with the Silver Medal of his class. He has exhibited extensively inside and outside of Perú. Selected exhibitions include Lo bueno de lo malo [Solo], Galería AAyA (Callao 2017), Madrugada, Fugaz (Callao 2016), Equivalencias al Margen [Solo], Galería Socorro polivalente (Lima 2015), OBJEKTIVITY, Galería Impakto (Lima 2014), Sing Sweet Songs of Conviction, Proyecto White Spider (Mexico City, 2013). He has participated in several residencies, such as Mana Contemporary (Miami 2016), Museo la ENE (Buenos Aires 2014) and R.A.T. Project of Aesthetic Investigation and Exploration (Mexico City 2013) and Curatoria Forense (Santiago de Chile 2013). His work is featured in collections such as MOLAA (Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles), MALI (Museo de Arte de Lima), Mana Contemporary Art (Miami) and the private collection of Claudio Valansi (Brasil).

Emilio Vargas Vera is a Potificia Universidad Católica del Perú graduate who works independently researching the conception, manipulation and impact of our contemporary visual landscape. Since 2011, parallel to his studio praxis, he has worked developing several artist-run platforms: Master Piss (Buenos Aires 2011), ABLi: Lima’s Independent Art Biennial (2014/2016) and Tokio Galería (Callao 2017), all promoting young artists with new approaches to their production. Selected exhibitions include Fuera del Mercantilismo Cultural (Lima 2015), Políticas del Crecimiento (Lima 2014), Yo no conozco Manchester (Lima 2010) and Hoy me siento un poco Patrick (Lima 2010). He has obtained the First National Painting Award (Lima 2008), the Torcuato Di Tella Scholarship for Artists (Buenos Aires 2011) and Second Place in San Marcos University’s Painting Salon (Lima 2014).

Levester Williams is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working in Philadelphia, PA. Williams’s praxis is deeply rooted in aesthetic and critical inquiries into modes of existence and existing. Questions arising from the politics and poetics of identity, space/place, boundary, and the body coalesce into forms of sculptures, installations, sound, performances, drawings, and writings. His work strives toward a greater fertility between objects and beings, language and the world. Williams received his BFA from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. He held exhibitions at BronxArtSpace, Bronx, NY; Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Charlotte, NC; Museum of African Design, Johannesburg, South Africa; Institute of Humanities, Ann Arbor, Michigan; and, among others, Reynolds Gallery, Richmond, Virginia.  Select awards include the U.S. Fulbright Research in the Arts Grant, Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, and Gates Millennium Scholarship. He participated in selected residencies at Skowhegan's School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, Maine; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont; and the Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa.