One of my favorite art museums in San Diego is MOPA (Museum of Photographic Arts). Located in the appropriately picturesque setting of Balboa Park, my admiration for this museum not only stems from their consistent showcase of highly inventive and beautiful photographic art, but also because I always leave there with more knowledge and awareness of the world around me. The power of photography is undeniable, and the current exhibitions deliver a true visual tour-de-force.
The headliner exhibition, Infinite Balance: Artists and the Environment is the first US presentation of artists shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Pictet, the world’s top prize for photography and sustainability. The show presents the work of acclaimed contemporary photographers from across the globe, created under the three guiding themes: Earth, Growth and Water.
The pictures are stunning – alarming, somber and telling about the impact of human progress on the environment. Many of the works are large-scale, presented beautifully in MOPA’s modern and open gallery space, leaving plenty of room to walk around, step back and absorb the photographs. There is a seating area set up in the main exhibition space, with monitors that show interactive videos created by the Prix Pictet. In these videos, artists talk about each of the themes represented in the exhibition – Earth, Growth and Water – providing a broader context to the work on display.
The second exhibition showcases the whimsical and creative talent of San Diego’s youth. The 2011 Annual Youth Exhibition, See/Saw, features photography and film produced by San Diego student artists, created during MOPA’s education programs in 2011. Each photograph displays the name and grade level of each student artist. Many of the photographs are accompanied by artist statements written by the students themselves. The wonderfully fresh photographic works provide authentic and unencumbered views of the world, seen through the eyes of San Diego’s youth. Not only was I astonished by the high-caliber quality of the artwork, but was surprised also how clearly and concisely each artist conveyed their ideas in the artist statements. An innovative and interactive feature of See/Saw is a SMS text messaging system that allows you to send your comments to the student artists directly. I loved that I could to send encouraging feedback to a few of my favorite artists from the show.
The exhibition also highlights a special program that MOPA developed in India earlier this year, using photography to teach Indian teens to explore environmental issues in their communities. The photographs taken by twenty Indian students who participated in the program in January of 2011 are on display, revealing insightful and haunting images of the rural region in India. This video showcases the program developed by MOPA.
Both exhibitions are on view for the next few months: Infinite Balance closes February 5, 2012, and See/Saw closes on January 29, 2012.
Want to check out these exhibitions for yourself? We’re giving away two (2) sets of four (4) MOPA guest passes! Leave a comment by Noon on Thursday, November 10, 2011 for a chance to win!