Torito y Castillos

Francisco Guerrero: Torito y Castillos

Curated by Amanda Donnan

October 14, 2016- November 23, 2016

Opening Reception: October 13, 2016, 4:30-7:30pm

Torito + Castillos presents a body of sculptural and installation work SU associate professor Francisco Guerrero has developed over the last year, which provocatively conflates the aggressive posturing of the military industrial complex with the spectacle and machismo of traditional Mexican pyrotechnic displays. The concept grew out of Guerrero's interest in the DIY origins of military technologies, particularly Unmanned Aerial Vehicle platforms or drones. “The UAV was invented during World War I by an engineer named Elmer Ambrose Sperry,” he says. “It was basically a biplane packed with TNT whose operators aimed it from the ground and launched it toward its target using a huge catapult.” A century later, drone technologies like the MQ-1 Predator have become a major facet of military assault strategies— purportedly used only to carry out “targeted killings” but often striking civilians as well.

Guerrero translates these dynamics of aggression—and the drone’s homespun roots— through traditional Mexican forms associated with the celebration of New Year, Holy Week, and saints’ feast days. Since the 19th century, people in small towns across Mexico have marked these occasions by constructing castillos, or “castles”: spinning Catherine wheels mounted on wooden towers and strung with lighted rockets. The culmination of a town’s fireworks display is often the quema de toros, or the “burning of the bulls,” in which hundreds of boys and young men wheel handmade toritos— papier- mâché bulls stuffed with explosives—into the plaza and set them alight.

Francisco Guerrero received his BFA in Painting from the University of Southern California and his MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California San Diego. One and two person exhibitions of his work have been mounted at Kinsey Gallery at Seattle University (2008 and 2004); The Happy Lion, Los Angeles (2006); Instituto de Cultura de Baja California, Ensenada, B.C., Mexico (2005); SEA Space, Seattle (2003); and Chambers Street Gallery, New York (2000). He has participated in group exhibitions at venues including Grey Gallery, Seattle (2010); Max Fish, New York (2010), James Harris Gallery, Seattle (2008); Hedreen Gallery at Seattle University (2007 and 2006); University Gallery at University of Hawaii Manoa (2005); The Hunting Club, New York (2004), Niagra, New York (2003 and 2002); and Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY (2001). Guerrero has been on faculty at Seattle University since 2003, and previously taught at Cornell University. 

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