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Ruben Ulises
Rodriguez Montoya

Skinchangers: Begotten of my Flesh

Jun 28-Dec 29, 2024

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya, As I willed myself out of entropy, 2022

2024 Toby's Prize Exhibition

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya presents a new body of work in his first solo museum exhibition, Skinchangers: Begotten of my Flesh, opening June 2024. This show expands upon the artist’s 2022 exhibition at Sargent’s Daughters entitled James Webb and the Thestral Born Without a Vertebrae, which shares the story of a vampire forced to reconstitute its body from space debris following the destruction of the last spaceship leaving an apocalypse-ravaged Earth.

A work of speculative fiction, Skinchangers: Begotten of my Flesh collapses linear time, fueling our anxiety of the unfamiliar while demanding reflection on how histories of abuse allow for a future seepage of toxicity. Using expanded polystyrene as a building block (after all, what material other than plastic can survive the end of the world?), Montoya transforms moCa’s Lewis Gallery into the interior of this last spaceship, complete with a celestial soundtrack that draws us into the darkness of the unknown. Mythical, shape-shifting creatures known as Nahuales that hatched aboard the vessel during an eon of astral travel hang from the spacecraft’s ceiling. Hovering in antigravity yet tethered to the ship’s architecture, their eternal home serves as both captor and protector.

These Nahuales are a part of the artist’ cast of characters, cohabitating with their vampiric guardian and the spacecraft’s mainframe, which itself is a sentient being, the beating heart that fuels the vessel throttling through space. Made from detritus of capitalist consumption, vestiges of the sentient, and materials that teeter on the edge of abjection, Montoya’s alchemical creatures feed off each other. They are stand-ins for the human body, used to explore how violence erases and eradicates communities of color. In this future apocalypse, processes of decay, regeneration, and shapeshifting for protection and survival graft new meaning upon our understandings of an “ecosystem.”

In addition to the exhibition, Montoya is designing a suite of activities for audience engagement and creating his first publication (available in Fall 2024). He is the third recipient of Toby’s Prize, a biannual award sponsored by philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis (1934-2022) and created to advance the work of emerging artists through exhibitions and publications.

This exhibition is presented through Toby’s Prize, a biennial award made possible by Toby Devan Lewis.

About the Artist

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya

Ruben Ulises Rodriguez Montoya (b. 1989, Parral, Chihuahua, MX) is a multidisciplinary artist and myth-maker whose work centers around anthologies and social issues concerning border culture, abjection, adaptation, and mestizaje. Aided by speculative fiction, cultural mythologies, science fiction, and the labor of his family, his work hybridizes and creates parallels between the land, the human, and the animal as a way to investigate the process in which violence eradicates, erases, and erodes communities of color.

Montoya’s recent solo exhibitions include James Webb and The Thestral Born Without a Vertebrate (2022) and Inside the Bowels of the Hoofed Beast (2020), both at Sargent’s Daughters, New York City, NY; and Ex Situ Canis Latrans (2021), Murmurs LA, Los Angeles, CA. Select group exhibitions include Durian on the Skin (2022), Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Outburst (2022), Palm Springs Museum of Art, Palm Springs, CA; were-:Nenetech Forms (2021), and MOCA Tucson, Tucson, AZ. He received his MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University and is represented by Murmurs Gallery.

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