Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA)

On Friday, November 10th, I went over to the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) at Balboa Park in San Diego. I had made plans to hangout with friends Sasha, Carlos, and Aaron that day so we decided to just see what we could do in San Diego. After a great deal of people-watching, duck-watching, and silly banter by the pond, we met up with Saul to see the two exhibitions at MOPA. I really wish I had remembered to bring a fancy camera from school to use at the museum (photographs were permitted) and at Balboa, but alas, my garbage phone camera had to do.

The first exhibition was called Point/Counterpoint. I appreciated how blunt and honest this exhibition was. Point/Counterpoint was a collection of photographic and video works from artists talking about change and transformation in today’s society especially surrounding the cultural mixing in Mexico and Southern California. Many of the works shown were hard to look at because of the difficult topics of family, drug use, body image, and borders. Many, if not all, of the photographic works were beautifully printed in very large sizes. In this way, the pieces were very confrontational and appropriately so. I noted that a lot of children were featured in some of the pieces or series which caused me to remember how so many innocent children are affected by other people’s decisions. This may seem obvious but is unfortunately all too often forgotten or overlooked. These works present social issues that must constantly be made aware of and talked about. One of the series in this exhibition that stood out to me was photojournalist Guillermo Arias’ series Muerto diario, meaning “every day dead.” Arias documents the devastation that drug abuse and culture wreaks in the Mexican border region. He argues that it is a huge part in how Mexico in general is viewed which unfortunately, is detrimental to other citizens of Mexico. His series showed images of stiff, hanging bodies against luminescent police cars or on a coroner’s table or the families affected by drug war. These situations are far from what I’ve ever faced and Arias’ honesty gave me another perspective and made me aware of the tragedies that occur so much closer to me than I realize. Some of the other photographs showed the aerial images of the US-Mexico border and the surrounding cities south of San Diego. In one particular photograph of Tecate, Mexico, Saul showed me where he used to live as a wee Saul.

The second exhibition was called Defining Boundaries which was the 12th Annual Juried Youth Exhibition. This particular exhibition showcased the art of K through 12th graders across San Diego County and Tijuana. Students were asked to express their ideas of “boundaries” through photography and video. According to the sign at the beginning of the exhibition, there were more than 670 entries for the exhibition but only 100 entries were selected to be shown. I really enjoyed seeing how younger students expressed their inner, intangible ideas and thoughts. I think that it is very brave of them to enter the exhibition. I know that at those ages, I feared people seeing my artwork and was also too shy to express myself verbally and artistically. From what I saw displayed on the walls of this exhibition, these students have only to grow artistically. While this exhibit was somewhat less thought-provoking than Point/Counterpoint, it correlated with the theme of struggle amidst boundaries that exist. These boundaries include It was interesting to read about and see all these perspectives from younger students from all over San Diego. It seems like it was a great opportunity to prompt these students to be thinking about how boundaries and differences are present in society and ways that said boundaries can be broken or how to learn from them.

I had such a great experience at MOPA! I appreciate that admission was free which makes the museum accessible to anyone and everyone visiting. Afterwards, we all went to In-n-Out. Deliciousness ensued and it was a solid day. 

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