Monday, Nov 16, 2015 - 3:50 pm
Artists Edgardo Aragón and Itzel Martinez will work directly with program participants

San Diego, CASan Diego teens involved in MCASD’s 2015-2016 Teen Advisory Group (TAG) will have the opportunity to work directly with emerging artists Edgardo Aragón and Itzel Martinez to create a multimedia exhibition, in collaboration with teens from Mexico City, that speaks to the role of violence in both cultures.

The project, entitled FOCUS: Youth Empowerment through Social Practice Art, is a collaboration between MCASD and the Tamayo Museum in Mexico City, and was created with funding from the Museums Connect grant, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Museums Connect pairs museums in the United States with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together through community projects that address topics of local relevance.

Young people in America and Mexico experience violence or the threat of violence in their communities. This significant social issue impacts our countries and communities in profound ways. FOCUS enables youth to find meaning and expression through the power of the arts and empowers them to envision solutions through creative interventions. Forty-four teens (22 in each country) from throughout San Diego County and Mexico City will connect with artists Edgardo Aragón and Itzel Martinez,who specialize in film and photography and have experience working with teens and addressing issues of social and political violence. The teens will select a theme within violence as a focus for their project—from intra-familial physical violence, dating violence, gangs and cartels, to gun-use. They will then act as amateur journalists as they examine and document their own families’ and communities’ stories related to violence. The teens will then create a short documentary film and mount a public exhibition in both countries to share these stories.

Artists Edgardo Aragón and Itzel Martinez will work alongside education staff from the Tamayo Museum and MCASD to guide and mentor FOCUS participants in their research and artistic practices.

For interviews and high-resolution images, please contact Communications & Marketing Manager Leah Straub or Communications Associate Patricia B. Dwyer.

About the Artists
Itzel Martinez (b. Mexico City, Mexico, 1978) will be working closely with the FOCUS participants based in San Diego. Martinez earned her Communication Studies degree at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), and has worked as a journalist, photographer, and teacher. As an artist, Martinez’s passion is the image and its ability to transform reality. She has been making collaborative documentary projects since 2000, exploring different ways of working and the audiovisual range. As a creative, her projects are various: she directs the creative brand Cuarto Propio in Tijuana; is Founder and Director of Programming of BorDocs Documentary Forum on the northern border of Mexico; and is co-director of the postproduction studio AIA Post & Color. Martinezhas taught at the UABC and the Iberoamericana University and worked for Polen Audiovisual Production Company from its creation in 2010 to 2013. She has taken multiple workshops and courses in film, research, visual arts, and participated in training sessions at DOCULAB (FICG), DOCS Forum (DOCS DF) and MoreliaLAB (FICM). Martinez has received support and grants including the National Fund for Culture and the Arts Young Creators, Project Development Support from IMCINE, as well as the Fund for Quality Film Production FOPROCINE-IMCINE, PACMYC, FOECA BC. Her documentaries have been screened at various international film and art festivals. LET THE STREET BE HEARD (2006) won the Jury Award at the San Diego Women Film Festival, and Honorary Mention and the SIGNIS Communications Award at the All Voices Against the Silence Festival.

Edgardo Aragón (b. Oaxaca, Mexico, 1985) will be working with the FOCUS participants based in Mexico City. Aragónhas emerged as part of a new generation of Mexican artists originating from outside Mexico's capital, whose aesthetic, political and social concerns differ drastically from the capital's more internationally recognized artists of the 1990s. Using photography and video, Aragón focuses his attention on the arid and open landscape of his country, poignantly negotiating the space between the land as the most faithful witness to history and the escalation of violence and subsequent media attention that plagues the region.  Aragón received a B.A. from Mexico's National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at numerous institutions including the Museum Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC), Mexico City; MoMA PS1, New York; and the LAXART at Luckman Gallery, Los Angeles. Recent group exhibitions include Resisting the Present, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); Disponible: A Kind of Mexican Show, San Francisco Art Institute (2011); El horizonte del topo, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2010); and forthcoming exhibitions at the Kadist Foundation, San Francisco; and the Modern Art Museum of Forth Worth, TX. Aragón was also included in the Third Moscow Biennial of Young Artists, the 12th Istanbul Biennial, and the Eighth Mercosul Biennial. He currently lives and works in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

About the Staff
Cristina (Cris) Scorza,MCASD’s Education Curator since 2011, will be coordinating the U.S. side of FOCUS. She brings 15 years of experience to this role, having worked at some of New York City’s leading arts institutions: the New Museum, MoMA, and the Brooklyn Children's Museum. At MCASD, Scorza oversees and directs all school and teacher programs and is responsible for the design and implementation of adult programs. Also under her purview is the development of interpretive materials that support the Museum's permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. Most recently she curated One Cannot Look: Graphic Wars, an exhibition featuring prints by Spanish artists Francisco de Goya and Rafael Canogar that address issues of conflict, violence, and trauma. Scorza was awarded the prestigious American Association of Museums Diversity Fellowship Award through the International Diversity Committee in 2006. She has written art history essays both in Spanish and English in the fields of Modern and Contemporary Mexican and Western Art, and was a contributor to Rethinking Contemporary Art and Multicultural Education, published by the New Museum and Routledge Press in 2011. Born and raised in Mexico City, Scorza's focus is on Latino artists working today. She holds her M.S. in Leadership in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education, her B.A. in Arts Administration and Art History from Baruch College, CUNY, and her B.F.A. from the National School of Visual Arts at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City.

Manuel Alcalá is the Mexico City coordinator for FOCUS, andthe newly appointed Curator of Education at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico City. He is also currently the Creative Director of both PROYECTA, a production platform for media arts and design, and TiNKER, an engineering laboratory for kids. The focus of his work is the intersection of design and narrative media through the use of technology. His professional career has centered on cultural production and promotion. He is the founder of VIDEODROMO, Mexico City’s first and most important independent film collection; CineABIERTO, a parallel project that brought art house films to theatrical and video release; tallerPUBLICO, one of Mexico’s first Maker Spaces that offers design and video services to artists, as well as a space to hold conferences, workshops and events; as well as workshops, conferences, and a program of open-air screenings that redefined Mexico City’s engagement with cinema in early 2004. He founded and directed JUDO/media, an interdisciplinary design firm which was a key player in Mexico’s interactive design scene from 2001 to 2008, and developed games for Papalote Children’s Museum, as well as authored complex, mixed media editions including the design of Alfonso Cuaron’s Y Tu Mama También’s Web, CD-ROM and DVD releases. Museo, his first feature as a scriptwriter, has received support from IMCINE (Mexico’s national cinema institute) both for script development (2008) and project development (2010), as well as from the Cine Qua Non Lab Workshop in Morelia, led by Christina Lazaridi. The film is currently in pre-production and will be directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios, director of the award-winning GÜEROS. The project was also granted the Latin America Fund by the TRIBECA FILM INSTITUTE. Additionally, Alcaláco-wrote and directed the Media Design Program in CENTRO University, a four-year bachelors program focused on interactive media, design and film. Manuel Alcalá attended the Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and he holds a B.A. in Cinema & Television from Boston University.

Museums Connect
The mission of Museums Connect is to build global communities throughpartnership, collaboration, and cross-cultural exchanges, linking the respective museums with communities both abroad and locally, while also supporting U.S. foreign policy goals, such as youth empowerment, environmental protection, and social inclusion.

Since its inception, Museums Connect has linked American museums in 27 states and the District of Columbia with partners in 49 countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Honduras, India, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine, among others.

This year’s grantees embrace the discipline and geographic diversity that is the signature of Museums Connect. Further information can be found at

About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums is the largest museum service organization in the world, serving all types of museums, including art, history, science, botanic gardens, zoos and aquariums. The Alliance helps museums serve their communities by developing standards and best practices, offering professional training and resources, and serving as the national voice of museums for the public, media and elected officials. Working on behalf of 35,000 museums, 400,000 museum employees, thousands of volunteers and the visitors who come to museums 850 million times each year, the Alliance is dedicated to bolstering museums in promoting lifelong learning, celebrating cultural heritage and inspiring the creative skills to compete in a global economy. For more information, visit

About the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) builds relations between people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports and professional exchange programs, as well as public private partnerships and mentoring programs. These exchange programs improve foreign relations and strengthen the national security of the United States, support U.S. international leadership, and provide a broad range of domestic benefits by helping break down barriers that often divide us, like religion, politics, language and ethnicity, and geography. ECA programs build connections that engage and empower people, and motivate them to become leaders and thinkers; to develop new skills; and to find connections that will create positive change in their communities. Alumni of ECA exchange programs comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 740 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current or former heads of state and government around the world. For more information, visit:

Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum's collection includes more than 4,600 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Hugh M. Davies is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD.

Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.