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Wit López '15 Infuses (re)FOCUS 2024 Exhibition with Humor and Joy

February 16, 2024
"Tryna Keep A Straight Face" by Wit López.

Alum Wit López ’15 is showing their artwork as part of (re)FOCUS, a multi-week, multi-venue exhibition in Philadelphia in honor of the 50th anniversary of “Philadelphia Focuses on Women in the Visual Arts.”

In 1974, the citywide festival celebrated women artists, centering them in a field where they were often sidelined or overlooked. In 2024, (re)FOCUS highlights how women-identifying and BIPOC artists have moved to the center of the art world in the decades since.

Photo of Wit Lopez

López’s work is part of “(re)FOCUS: Then and Now” at The Galleries at Moore, on view through March 16. The large installations are textiles or image-based digital collages incorporating textiles, and showcased alongside works from other contemporary artists as well by the artists featured in the original 1974 exhibition.

“Humor, a sense of joy, and representation are very central to my work,” López says.

They have four new works on display created just for the (re)FOCUS exhibition: a basketball rack filled with 18 basketball-sized knitted pillows that look like their head, a 2-D digital collage self-portrait with 3-D knitted and crocheted elements, a basketball hoop with a crocheted net, and a disassembled/reassembled quilt top.

“All of my work in the show, including the new works, incorporate bright colors to evoke feelings of joy in the viewer,” López says. Read more from the artist in the Q&A below.

How were you approached to be part of (re)FOCUS?

I was contacted by the gallery director at Moore College, Gabrielle Lavin Suzenski, in February 2023. She shared that there was going to be a 50th anniversary exhibition in 2024 celebrating underrepresented women and gender-nonconforming artists in Philadelphia. Gabrielle explained that the original show from 1974, called FOCUS, uplifted women artists, and that this 50th anniversary celebration was designed to elevate necessary discussions on representation, marginalization, social justice, violence, equality, and empowerment. As I learned more about the exhibition, and the work of the amazing artists from the original 1974 project, I was excited to participate.

What does it mean to you to be showing your work in the exhibition?

As a gender non-conforming, disabled artist of color, it means a great deal to me to be invited to show my work, especially as a part of (re)FOCUS. Many of the women from the original exhibition are my sheroes in the arts, like Diane Burko, Joyce Kozloff, Faith Ringgold, and Barbara Zucker. To have my work spotlighted along with theirs is an absolute honor. It's also important for me to show my work because my largest object on display is an 11' x 12' quilt that acts as a projection screen for images of fellow disabled artists living in Philadelphia. It is truly an honor to be uplifted and to also be given the space to uplift others, too.

Installation by Wit López

How did your time and studies at Bryn Mawr influence you as an artist?

Prior to making the visual and performance art that I currently make, I was very interested in becoming a documentary filmmaker. My time at Bryn Mawr as an Anthropology major was very influential in my interest in documentary as an art form. While I was an undergraduate student at BMC, I created a project called "Lxs AfrxLatinxs," which was a documentary photography series accompanied by a feature length film highlighting LGBTQ+ Latin Americans of African descent. I was invited to have my first solo exhibition with that project at Swarthmore College and invited to Mexico to screen the film all before I graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2015. My current practice still contains elements of documentary, though it is more autoethnographic than my earlier work. I definitely can thank former professors like Dr. Beth Uzwiak (anthropology) and Dr. Mary Osirim (sociology) for the positive impact they had on my desire to be a documentarian and my understanding of the importance of documentary media as a tool for the social empowerment of marginalized populations.

(re)FOCUS: Then and Now is on display at The Galleries at Moore through March 16, 2024. The Galleries at Moore are located at 1916 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. LEARN MORE.

Read more about Wit's work and (re)FOCUS in this story from WHYY

Wit López photographed in The Galleries at Moore with their artwork. Photo by Emma Lee, WHYY
Wit López photographed in The Galleries at Moore by Emma Lee of WHYY.

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