by Shizu Saldamando

2021 Paula and Edwin Sidman Fellow in the Arts

November 2 - December 10, 2021
M-F 9am-5pm

Special Viewing: Shizu Saldamando in Conversation with curator Amanda Krugliak
November 2, 2021
Gallery opens at 6:30pm, Conversation begins at 7pm

Institute for the Humanities Gallery, 202 S. Thayer
free and open to the public


Los Angeles-based artist Shizu Saldamando was born in 1978 to parents of Mexican-American and Japanese-American descent and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. Saldamando merges painting and collage, often using origami paper, glitter, or gold leaf in her compositions, many of which are painted on wood or found surfaces. Her modern portraits and innovative methods challenge social constructs pertaining to individual and collective identity within the broader context of the “American Portrait.” Saldamando’s visual biographies, which use her friends, family, and fellow members of the Chicanx creative community in Los Angeles, create new ways of seeing and being seen.

About the artist: Shizu Saldamando is an LA based mixed media artist with an emphasis on portraiture. She received her BA from UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture and her MFA from California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited both locally and internationally and experiments with a broad range of surfaces and materials. Saldamando’s practice employs tattooing, video, painting and drawing on canvas, wood, paper, and and cloth. The work functions as homage, as well as documentation, of friends and peers within artistic and musical subcultures around the Los Angeles metropolitan area. She is currently represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles.


Curator's Statement

Born in San Francisco in 1978, LA-based artist Shizu Saldamando defies imposed norms and expectations as to the social constructs of individual and collective cultural identity.

Her practice is informed by hip hop, punk rock, and the post-punk era. Her deep roots in the LatinX artist and queer club scene of LA is as integral to her work as her family’s history of incarceration in Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during WWII. 

It is impossible to parse apart threads of belonging from those of displacement, of celebration from mourning, of hardship from resilience.

Saldamando creates modern portraits of familiar people who define and inhabit their own spaces...hosting their own backyard punk shows, fashion and art shows, gathering in their own queer clubs, broadening the conversation as to who belongs in institutional art spaces, and who creates culture.

Each work feels up close, immediate, intimate, honoring family, friends, and peers from her own creative community, those she admires and appreciates. It’s personal, even during recent times of social distance.

Boundless, Saldamando’s methods include painting, video, ballpoint drawing on bedsheets, and tattoo design. Incorporating wood, handmade papers, glitter, and gold leaf in her compositions, she embraces the craft traditions of both her Mexican-American and Japanese-American heritages. 

Saldamando’s practice is a way in on the outs...on her own terms, a gestural act of resistance, liberated beyond the constraints and rigid value systems implicit in formal portraiture. 

Each intricate representation alludes to the complexity of her protagonists and their multi-dimensional stories, the richness of human relationships and their indelible imprints.

–Amanda Krugliak IH Art Curator