MexiCali Biennial presents Handle with Care
Feb 4 – May 7, 2023
The MexiCali Biennial is honored to introduce Fred Brashear as 2022/2023 Artist in Residence along with partnering institution the San Bernardino County Museum. Brashear’s research-driven project artistically explores topics of climate change, sustainability, and cultural history through the many uses of the Nopal cactus. Titled Handle with Care, the resulting exhibition incorporates themes addressed in the biennial’s Land of Milk & Honey and encompasses a solo exhibition showcasing the artist’s extensive research at the museum as well as his travels to throughout Mexico, California, and the greater Southwest region of the United States. By looking at the historical, cultural, and biological uses of the cactus, alternative ideas on its use present themselves to help mitigate the effects of weather-related phenomena due to climate change.
Brashear spent close to a full year researching researching the Opuntia as a sustainable resource, resulting in a multimedia exhibition that incorporates live cacti as a performative component, along with photo-based artwork, culinary video tutorials by the artist’s family member, and a recipe booklet. The live plant display incorporates the use of PlantWave, a biodata sonification device that measures the electrical variation in the plant, transforming them into audible tones. The artist has mined the San Bernardino County Museum’s archives to locate and display objects from their collection that relate to his research and is concurrently displayed within the gallery, creating a cohesive past, present, and future centering the Opuntia as an alternative natural solution to help mitigate climate change.