Art Matters @ SBMA


Art Matters is presented by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and is a premier lecture series intended for continuing adult education in the history of art. Our distinguished speakers come from the Santa Barbara area, as well as across the country, and occasionally, abroad. Art historians, curators, and conservators offer fascinating insights into their areas of specialization.

Tickets: Free
SBMA is pleased to offer Art Matters gratis via Zoom while the Museum is closed to the public out of concern for health and safety during the pandemic.

Art Matters Lectures



Casta Paintings: Picturing Racial Difference in Colonial Mexico (via Zoom)
Elena Fitzpatrick Sifford
Assistant Professor of Art History, Baker Center for the Arts
October 1
3 pm

In the 18th century in Mexico, artists began painting images of couples of different ethnic backgrounds along with their racially-mixed children. Typically, created in sets of 16, each picture showed a different type that was loosely codified in the sistema de castas, a hierarchy that categorized people based on racial mixture. This talk introduces casta paintings and discusses their formal and contextual characteristics, including the impetus for their creation and the significance of the works for those who commissioned and displayed them on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Race, Society, and Identity in 19th-century Mexican Costumbrismo (via Zoom)
Mey-Yen Moriuchi
Associate Professor of Art, La Salle University
November 5
3 pm

Costumbrismo, a genre that took hold in Spain and Latin America, manifested itself through the visual and literary arts and sought to capture the customs, costumes, and traditions of everyday people and everyday life. In Mexico, it garnered particular momentum and prominence as the nation’s leaders tried to stabilize the country both politically and economically. Costumbrista artists desired to capture the corporeal physicality and presence of the Mexican people through their emphasis on naturalistic depiction and attention to detail. They created personal, constructed portrayals of Mexican life that were often romanticized and politicized. Ultimately, costumbrismo created a propagandistic, subjective language of representation that evaluated, critiqued, and celebrated 19th-century Mexican culture and traditions.

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"What Matters is Boldness": Mexican Modernism in Context (via Zoom)
Mark Castro
Jorge Baldor Curator of Latin American Art, Dallas Museum of Art
December 3
3 pm

In the aftermath of Mexico’s violent civil war from 1910 to 1920, artists played a vital role in the construction of a new national identity. The works of the famous mural painters José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros epitomized this transformation, capturing scenes from Mexico’s past, present, and an imagined future. Although of critical importance, these monumental works represent one facet of the rich history of Mexican modern art. This talk offers a glimpse of the complex history of innovation and debate that shaped Mexican art and in turn influenced modern art across the globe.

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