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Artist uses taxidermy, bones and more to bring exhibit to life

May 30, 2017

ASU Art Museum features Mexico-based artist Gabriel Rico for his US debut using objects from School of Life Sciences

Neon and taxidermy animals usually scream gun shop, feed store or Arizona honky-tonk.

This time it says art.

“Art can be anything — good taste, bad taste, avant-garde, digital — it’s just material,” said Gabriel Rico a Mexico-based multimedia artist making his U.S. debut this week at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe.

“An illusion to create all kinds of possibilities.”

The 36-year-old artist has created many illusions and possibilities in his new show, “DEAD, DEAD, LIVE, DEAD,” which will open June 10 and remain up through Sept. 2.

An opening reception will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, June 1, with Rico present. The event is free and open to the public.

For Rico’s first museum exhibition in the United States, he has borrowed objects from ASU’s Life Sciences program to create a one-of-a-kind installation. He uses materials such as taxidermy animals, bones, pelts, neon, projection, ceramic plates and other objects to address the relationship between nature, architecture and the future ruins of civilization.

It sounds a bit esoteric, but there’s also lots of humor and absurdity in Rico’s work. Don’t be surprised if you see an entranced fox sitting and staring at a hole in the wall, a formation of small birds outlining a 3-D box or a fowl clutching fruit above a Coke bottle.

“It’s playful and it’s fun, but there’s a lot of surrealism and still-life influences from the 16th and 17th centuries in his work,” said Julio Cesar Morales, ASU Art Museum curator. “He’s one of the best artists of his generation coming out of Mexico.”

Rico is visiting the Valley as part of an international artist residency and cultural exchange between the cities of Phoenix and Guadalajara, Jalisco, organized by the ASU Art Museum, the CALA AllianceCALA stands for Celebacion Artistica de las Americas, and is a non-profit organization that creates shared arts experiences that encourage cultural understanding between people of the Americas. and Programa Annual de Open Studios in Mexico.

Called the GDL-PHX Residencias Artisticas, it will offer fully sponsored residencies to artists from Guadalajara to travel and work in Phoenix, and to Latino/a artists from Phoenix to travel and work in Guadalajara.

The goal is to provide opportunities for artists to grow their creative practice, experiment with new approaches and create a dialogue between Phoenix and Guadalajara to foster deeper cultural and artistic knowledge, according to CALA Alliance Curator Casandra Hernandez.

“There are many parallels between the cities and arts communities of Guadalajara and Phoenix,” Hernandez said. “Both cities are thriving, growing and culture flows out of these two places.”

She added that both cities are sometimes ignored in favor of their larger metropolitan counterparts — Mexico City and Los Angeles — despite the fact that Guadalajara and Phoenix boast thriving arts and culture scenes.

In conjuction with his installation, Rico will also present “Muero Vivo” at 6 p.m. June 1 at the ASU Art Museum Project Space in downtown Phoenix. For that exhibit, Rico selected insects from ASU’s Hasbrouck Insect Collection to be displayed with his sculpture and video work.

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Phoenix-based artist Estrella Payton is one of the first participants in GDL-PHX Residencias Artisticas, a residency program between the cities of Phoenix and Guadalajara, Jalisco. She will head to Guadalajara on June 25 to begin her five-week residency. 

Three weeks after Rico’s two exhibitions open to the public, Phoenix-based artist Estrella Payton will be headed to Guadalajara on June 25 to begin her five-week residency as part of the GDL-PHX Residencias Artisticas program.

“I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the city’s colonial history and seeing how that will influence and develop my work,” said Payton, an interdisciplinary artist who explores the use of building materials, constructed spaces, movement, map-making, text and collage.

“I’m going to make as much of the experience as I can.”


Top photo: Artist-in-residence Gabriel Rico looks at pictures on his phone for reference as he installs his show “DEAD, DEAD, LIVE, DEAD,” at the ASU Art Museum on May 25. Rico’s exhibit mimics realistic still-life paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries. He is has borrowed objects from ASU’s Life Sciences program such as taxidermy animals and bones. No animals were harmed for the exhibit. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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American Bar Association elects ASU Law Professor Myles Lynk to Board of Governors

June 6, 2017

Arizona State University Professor Myles Lynk is one of the most respected law professors the country, and a national organization has affirmed it.

Lynk has been tapped by the likes of the White House, ASU’s president and the chief justice of the United States for his objective legal mind, as well as his sense of fairness.

More recently he was elected by the American Bar Association (ABA) to serve on its Board of Governors, which meets about four times a year and oversees the general operation of the association and develops specific plans of action. 

“At its best, in America the law is an instrument that helps define and protect the rights of even the weakest among us while restraining even the most powerful from abusing the rights of others,” said Lynk, a professor in ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

“Thus, I agree with the great English philosopher John Locke, who wrote, ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’”

ASU Now caught up with Lynk, who is gearing up for his three-year term with the ABA starting in August.  

Question: Congratulations on your new appointment. What does this mean for ASU Law?

Answer: It is not often that a law professor is elected to the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. I think my election will give ASU Law a greater visibility to the bar nationally, and will afford me an opportunity to showcase the excellence of ASU Law's faculty, students and resources.   

Q: What function does the board perform, and how is this important to the law nationwide?

A: Founded in 1878, and with almost 400,000 members today, the ABA is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. The Board of Governors consists of 44 members, including the officers of the association and board members elected from geographical districts, from the sections of the association, and from different constituencies within the association such as judges and young lawyers.

I am being elected as what is known as a Goal III representative, representing the broad group of minority members of the association. The board oversees the general operation of the association, develops specific plans of action to develop and maintain the work of the association and has the authority to speak and act for the ABA.

The ABA is important to the development of uniform principles in the law, in the promotion of ethical standards for the profession, and for the protection of the public, nationwide. 

Q: How does our nation’s law system compare with other countries around the world?

A: “Equal justice under law” are the words that are carved into the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. This is what we strive for and, I believe, achieve to a greater degree than most other countries around the world. Though it is complex, the legal system in the United States is more transparent than in many other countries.

While access to justice and the availability of legal representation for all remain serious issues that our nation must confront, our courts and justice system are administered with integrity and competence. In fact, one of the reasons that non-U.S. citizens are so willing to invest their funds in the U.S. and immigrate to the U.S. is because of their confidence in our legal system. No legal system can be perfect, but for a heterogeneous society such as ours is, the American legal system is one of the ways we define our sense of community as a people, “under law.”      

Q: What is your personal philosophy of the law?

A: I see the law as an instrument, as the means by which societies order their priorities of social organization and provide a socially acceptable way to punish wrongdoers and resolve civil disputes that arise within the society. I definitely view the law as a vehicle that can promote equal justice and social order, but I recognize that it can also be used to protect the status quo. 

Today, our civil society is challenged to find in the law ways to address the tensions that exist between our constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and free association, and the equally important rights of all Americans to be fully integrated into a society that protects them from discrimination, hate crimes and harassment. We are also challenged to enact and enforce laws that deal responsibly with the complexities of immigration into our country. At its best, in America the law is an instrument that helps define and protect the rights of even the weakest among us while restraining even the most powerful from abusing the rights of others. Thus, I agree with the great English philosopher John Locke, who wrote, "Wherever law ends, tyranny begins."     

Q: What is so intriguing about the law that keeps you interested in the field?

A: After all these years, the rule of law and the role of lawyers in society continue to fascinate me. As chair for the past three years of the ABA's Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility, I have been able to help interpret and develop the very rules that guide the conduct of lawyers in their professional lives, and as a professor of law here at ASU, I have been fortunate to be able to study the law, and to teach the law to the next generations of lawyers. The hopeful enthusiasm of my students enriches me and encourages me. They may not keep me young in fact, but they have kept me young in spirit and in my own enthusiasm for the rule of law in America.     


Top photo: Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Professor Myles Lynk was recently elected to the American Bar Association's Board of Governors, which oversees the general operation of the association and develops specific plans of action. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now