Nao Bustamante (Visiting Artist Lecture Review)

Rocio Ramirez
ART 3539
Visiting Artist Lecture (Nao Bustamante)


*I was unable to attend a Denver Visiting Artist Lecture, so I attended a second CU Boulder Visiting Artist Lecture. Emailed earlier to check if it was alright to substitute lecture.
Nao Bustamante is a renowned and celebrated artist that works with her body as the focal point of her work. This is done in order to confront the audience in a blunt and fearless manner, hoping to then transfer this feeling to the spectators themselves. This process is then blended with a variety of mediums, ranging from sculpture, to installation, and video. Her confrontational style mixed with an eclectic mix of mediums have served to separate Bustamante from the other artists of her generation, and elevate her as one of the most interesting and exciting artists of her time.
Upon further research of Nao Bustamante I came to be more and more interested in her work, particularly how she came to develop as an artist. Bustamante was born and raised in central California, more specifically in the San Joaquin Valley. Here she took her Hispanic heritage and blended it with her upbringing, in order to later create and develop a unique style of work. She attended the San Francisco Art Institute and decided to path her career in the new genres. Here is where Bustamante fully refined her style to what would make her the artist she is today. She’s known to experiment with, as aforementioned, a variety of mediums, not letting a specific area box her in. This openness to trying out different materials and processes allows Bustamante to create recognizable and distinctly original work, and thusly body of work. Bustamante, without a doubt, got a lot of her influence from her enrollment in the new genres department in the San Francisco Art Institute, this clearly proven by her way of conceptualizing her ideas, and then executing them in a very novel and particular manner.
Nao Bustamante’s presentation for the CU visiting artist program was threaded with humorous anecdotes and insightful views into her thought process, this presentation gave me a greater appreciation and respect for Bustamante’s work. A lot of times when viewing artists work without context about where it came from, how it came to be, and what specifically its supposed to express, it can be somewhat underwhelming and or some important aspects get muddled and don’t exactly come across. Therefore, Bustamante’s lecture really provided the much need insight into her work. The common theme that I got from her presentation was the use of a confrontational and straightforward method in order to almost automatically familiarize herself with the audience. This is also a very evident aspect in her work as well. By bluntly addressing commonly accepted truths like, stereotypes, archetypes, and commonalities it allows her to reveal her own perspective, and thusly reveal a new way of understanding for the viewer that otherwise would have been ignored. This is especially apparent in one of her pieces she talked about, “America the Beautiful.” This specific piece addresses the “blonde bombshell” archetype by presenting it in a way that reveals a very evident oppression both literally and figuratively. In this piece Bustamante wraps herself up in some sort of tape, clearly constricted she maneuvers her way up a ladder in a bizarrely disquieting marionette manner. This piece clearly shows, as stated by Bustamante herself, the confrontation and attempt to reveal something in a novel way about a particular stereotype.
Another interesting aspect that Bustamante talked about in more detail was the way she chooses to address certain everyday things we all encounter in our daily lives. Particularly how consumers interact with the dichotomy of pop culture in the boundary between the US and Mexico. This piece was both interesting just from the concept itself, Nao Bustamante dressing up as the McDonalds mascot, Ronald McDonald and then asking for a free meal. The other intriguing aspect of this piece were the results. Bustamante was given her free meal, this revealing the way people, particularly how these employees, handle uncomfortable situations and how they’re willing to compromise in order to avoid any sort of scene, as Bustamante put it.
Nao Bustamante’s visiting artist lecture provided a more intimate view into her body of work and her thought process behind her work. Bustamante uses a wide array of mediums and presentations in order to confront spectators with a novel insight into commonly accepted ideas or commonalities. This theme within her work is both present in obvious ways but also are layered in subtly in all her pieces. This refined and original style sets Nao Bustamante apart from her fellow artists, and thusly proves that her work is something to pay attention to.

One Response

  1. This artist reminds me a lot of Janine Antoni who heavily relies on her body to complete her work as well. Bustamante sounds very interesting. I enjoy artists that are blunt in order to gather the audiences attention. From your explanation she seems extremely obvious. Sometimes to artist lectures can be rather monotonous with very little humor, it is nice to hear you really enjoyed listening to her speak. Your writing is direct and to the point, yet still provides insight. I enjoyed this paper, good work!

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