Unearthing: Magic, Mimicry, and the Mundane

Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño

Artist-in-Residence: Critical Race Studies

June 4 – Aug 6, 2021

MSU Union Art Gallery

Unearthing: Magic, Mimicry, and the Mundane, is a quest to widen the understanding of ancestral artifacts, the imagination, and art as vital sources for dismantling western forms of intellectual imperialism. Rooted in object-orientated ontology, the exhibition interweaves Mesoamerican archeological artifacts and contemporary artworks from Mexican artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Graciela Iturbide, Flor Garduno, and Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño in order to conjure mystical teachings via spiritual mestizaje.

Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño, Magia Madre (Mother Magic), Graphite and charcoal on Arches Rives BFK paper, 2021. Photo taken by Alex Nichols.

Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1982. He is an artist and educator who creates paintings, performances, and sculptures confronting the palpable inescapability of race, transforming them into acts of cultural reclamation. Like DNA strings of mestizaje, his practice confronts contradiction—Indian/conqueror, violence/unity, and ancient/contemporary. As an immigrant and former laborer, Sahagun seeks to reveal the aesthetics of relocation and transgenerational trauma by utilizing building materials such as silicone, lumber, drywall, concrete, and hardware as symbols that represent working-class immigrants in this country.

Sahagun cultivates civic activations for community members, students, and other educators alike. A unique element fueling his social art practice is his experience growing up feeling invisible to society because he was Brown, undocumented, and poor, making him privy to perceptions that most people have not been exposed to. He uses the residue of those traumas to guide the development of meaningful performances, public interventions, discussions, and workshops.

Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño, Cambiaré la faz del misterio ancestral (Changing the face of ancestral mystery), Archival pigment print, 2021. Photos by Alex Nichols.

Luis Alvaro Sahagun Nuño (b. 1982, Guadalajara, Mexico) is a multi-disciplinary artist transforming art into a mystical instrument that bestows a pre-Columbian spiritual connection in order to heal wounds of conquest, colonization, and capitalism.  Sahagun has exhibited at venues including the Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL; MCA, Chicago, IL; Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell, NM; The National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL; the International Exposition of Contemporary Art (expo) Chicago, IL; DePaul Art Museum, Chicago, IL; amongst many others.  Additionally, his work has been covered in publications such as: ArtForum, ChicagoMag, NewCity Magazine, MundoFOX, New American Paintings, and the Chicago Tribune. His practice has also been spotlighted on the radio and television networks such as UNIVISION and WBEZ-NPR.  He has held residencies at Arquetopia Oaxaca, Roswell New Mexico, Chicago Artist Coalition, Mana Contemporary in Miami, and Michigan State University in East Lansing. He received his undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University- Carbondale, and an MFA at Northern Illinois University. He currently works on the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations. Many other Nations such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee Sac, and Fox also call this area home.

To see more of Unearthing: Magic, Mimicry, and the Mundane click here

Unearthing: Magic, Mimicry, and the Mundane was organized by the MSU Union Art Gallery at Michigan State University. Support for this exhibition was provided by the MSU Federal Credit Union, the MSU College of Arts & Letters, MSU Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU. This show was made possible thanks to support from Bill Augustus, Amy Brown, Evan Christopherson, Jake Jacques, Zane Kemper, Jacquelynn Sullivan Gould, Rachel Vargas, Alex Vonhof, and Karin Zitzewitz.

To see more of Luis Sahagun’s work visit:

Website: http://luissahagun.com/index

Instagram: @lsahagun2 – https://www.instagram.com/lsahagun2/

Visiting Artist Lecture: https://mdid.art.msu.edu/data/record/84116/583-2/

(Sahagun’s Artist Lecture is available to anyone with an MSU NetID and PW, it can be downloaded or viewed on your browser by clicking in the lower right hand corner, under “Media”)