Carlos Villa: Worlds In Collision at BAMPFA

As some know, my mentor Carlos Villa organized an iconic series of exhibitions, symposia, curricula, publications, and web projects under the “Worlds in Collision” umbrella from 1976 until his passing in 2013. I was deeply influenced by these projects as a young undergrad at SFAI, and for many years afterward. These projects and conversations addressed multiculturalism, education, activism, and identity politics with the intention of shaping a more inclusive art world and art history.

When friend and curator/writer/archivist Lian Ladia (of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and Planting Rice) asked if I would be interested in organizing a symposium revisiting Carlos’ legacy for BAMPFA, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to reflect on Worlds In Collision as a whole, to see where we stand currently in relation to its original concerns.

event header, adapted from the cover design of the 1994 book

Styled in a format reminiscent of the original symposia, the April 21 event was a mix of panels and breakout conversations, organized around 3 themes: Carlos Villa’s History/Legacy, Worlds In Collision Then and Now, and Filipino American Arts. An extraordinary group of panelists framed each conversation for about an hour; this was then followed by smaller moderated breakout discussions to engage all attendees, ensuring that everyone took an active role in these conversations.

Peoples’ dedication to the event was clear, with participants flying in from Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington DC, or driving in from hours away within California. And it was truly glorious seeing the mix of generations and communities that attended, all so ready to engage and collaborate. It was a lively, often emotional afternoon: it seems clear that Carlos’ vision, and the work of Worlds In Collision, continues on in good hands, in many forms, with tremendous generosity of spirit.


Opening Keynote: Amalia Mesa-Bains

Carlos Villa’s History/Legacy: Theo Gonzalves, Jeff Gunderson, Lian Ladia, Dewey Crumpler, Amalia Mesa-bains

Worlds In Collision Then and Now: Moira Roth+Mark Johnson, Thea Quiray Tagle, Brett Cook, Jacqueline Francis + Kathy Zarur

Filipino American Arts: Patricia Cariño Valdez, Kimberley Acebo Arteche, Michael Arcega, Jenifer Wofford, Alleluia Panis

Closing Remarks: Theo Gonzalves

Breakout Conversation Moderators: Jessica Tully, Johanna Poethig, Valerie Soe, Patricia Cariño Valdez, Rafael Vieira, Maurizzio Hector Pineda, Dorothy Santos, PJ Gubatina Policarpio, Dara Danger Del Rosario

One comment

  1. J. McNiel says:

    This looks like it was a wonderful event! I wish I could have attended. I was a graduate teaching assistant to Carlos in the late 1990s, maybe 98-99, at SFAI. I felt honored to be chosen to assist him in teaching his undergrads. I currently work as a teaching artist inside the prison system. I miss Carlos a lot. We stayed in touch, during the 10+ years after I graduated and moved away from the SF Bay Area. He really taught me a lot about how to be an effective teacher and to not back away from addressing difficult issues, and to be aware of the need for inclusiveness and diversity.
    Would love to attend, if you ever organize something like this, again. Thank you.