California College of the Arts (CCA) is delighted to have Kota Ezawa, associate professor of film, included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, which opens today. Ezawa debuts his new work, National Anthem, a significant watercolor animation that was a year and a half in the making and specifically selected by the biennial curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley. He has taught at CCA since 2004 and is one of two Bay Area-based artists included in this year’s biennial.
“We are incredibly proud to have Kota representing CCA and the Bay Area in the Whitney Biennial,” says Dean of Fine Arts Allison Smith. “He is an exceptional artist and an outstanding educator whose work deftly blends the worlds of fine art and film.”
“Art school is a vibrant meeting place for artists of all generations,” says Ezawa. “I am incredibly grateful to be part of the CCA’s community of working artists and thankful to the leadership who provided the time and support I needed to complete this major project.”
For National Anthem, Ezawa uses televised imagery of recent controversial NFL protests. The extent and complexity in his use of watercolor signals an aesthetic shift from the distilled flat-color forms of his previous work. He is known for his meticulous, frame-by-frame re-creation of found film, video, and photographic images of iconic or current events. His recontextualization of imagery into animations, drawings, slide projections, paper cut-outs, light boxes, and collage—painstakingly rendered—offers viewers a space of meditation on visual culture.
Ezawa’s work is on permanent view in the International Terminal of the San Francisco International Airport, and his tile mosaic mural Once Upon a Time in the West is located on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. Haines Gallery in San Francisco, which represents Ezawa, will host a solo exhibition of his work, opening Nov. 7 and on view through Dec. 21.
About Kota Ezawa
Kota Ezawa’s (German Japanese American, b. 1969) work explores the appropriation and mediation of current events and images. He translates found film, video, and photographic images into drawings and animations that reduce complex imagery to its most essential, two-dimensional elements in order to debate their validity as mediators of actual historical events and personal experiences.
Ezawa’s work has been showcased in solo exhibitions at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (2005); Artpace, San Antonio (2006); Madison Square Park, New York (2011); Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2013); Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia (2015); Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts (2017); and SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico (2017); as well as in group exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2005); Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2005); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2008); Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, Australia (2010); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California (2010, 2016); Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2011); the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. (2013); Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (2016); and Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco (2017); and he is a participating artist in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
Ezawa received a SECA Art Award in 2006 and a Eureka Fellowship in 2010. His work has been acquired by institutions such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, California; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. He is represented by Haines Gallery, San Francisco.