Sunday, May 7–Sunday, September 24, 2017
When Star Montana was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, she longed for California sunshine and dreamed of the light and the people of Los Angeles. A Boyle Heights native, she returned home periodically, trips during which she took a number of the photos on view in Beta Main. When Montana moved back to Los Angeles after graduation, the reality—the nightmare—of traumatic events with family and friends awaited her. Despite the circumstances, her dream of Los Angeles continues through her photography practice and is captured in the images in this exhibition.
Many of the subjects in Montana’s photography are strangers she got to know when she approached them in East L.A. or South L.A., engaged them in conversation, and then asked to take their pictures. Some are friends and others she met via an open-call process to add to this body of work as part of her residency at The Main that preceded this exhibition. With honesty and sensitivity in equal measure, Montana endeavors to give visibility to those who are not often represented in art or art institutions. Each label contains Montana’s observations about her subjects and their contexts excerpted from a conversation between the artist and The Main director Allison Agsten. These texts complement and reveal Montana’s dialogical process, which typically involves a lengthy exchange just prior to each photo session. The full transcript can be read here.
Star Montana (b. 1987) is a photo-based artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, a predominantly Mexican American neighborhood that serves as the backdrop to much of her work. Montana’s imagery deals with class, social environment, and identity within the personal and her family. Three dots and Tear drops—a long-term project with her family that has dealt with fragmented histories, loss, and the hope of the next generation—was recently on view at the Vincent Price Art Museum and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Recently, Montana has begun work on her themes within a larger scope of Los Angeles residents via portraiture and video. Montana received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2013.