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Artist addresses the present via the past

Michael Arcega visits CSUMB March 8 as Visiting Artist Series continues

Conceptual artist Michael Arcega likens the titles of his works to punch lines. There?s El Conquistadork, a 10?foot high Spanish galleon he made from manila folders, and Conquistadorks I & II, elaborate suits of armor also crafted with manila folders.

The titles speak to the artist?s quirky sense of humor and his obsession with wordplay, while using humor to delve into weighty issues. Born in Manila, the artist uses his puns to address his interest in Filipino history, imperialism and global, socio?political issues.

The local community will have the opportunity to learn about Arcega’s work when he visits CSU Monterey Bay on March 8. His free talk, part of the Visiting Artists Series, will start at 6 p.m. in the University Center living room. The University Center is located on Sixth Avenue at B Street. Driving directions and a campus map can be found at

?I use manila folders to talk about trade and business and colonialism. Having paper armor, I think, shows the frailty of military strength,” he told an interviewer for KQED TV’s Spark program.

His other works comment on and satirize contemporary themes, like the United States? complicated relationship with oil production. In Gaud We Trust, a 12?foot?high gothic cathedral constructed with black petroleum?based plastic, features oil derricks as its spires and a cross that looks as if it is spitting out black gold.

Although many of his works are mixed?media sculptures, Arcega is a true interdisciplinary artist whose works range from paintings to installations, videos to drawings. He earned a B.F.A. in interdisciplinary studies at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1998 and an MFA from Stanford in 2009.

History tends to keep repeating, so I tend to mine history for content and try to apply it to current events. – Michael Arcega Learn more about CSUMB's Visual and Public Art Department here.