Rebeca Méndez was born in Mexico City and received her MFA from Art Center College of Design. She is currently a professor in the department of Design | Media Arts at UCLA. She has shown her work at ARCO Madrid 29th International Art Fair; X Biennial, Cuenca, Ecuador; the National Design Triennial; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Beall Center for Art and Technology, University of California, Irvine; the Alyce Williamson Gallery, Pasadena; the Broad Art Center, UCLA; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Her work is represented in public and private collections, including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; the Denver Art Museum; the Freitag Historical Museum, Hannover; and Museo José Luís Cuevas, Mexico City. Méndez lectures internationally, and reviews of her work have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Eye Magazine, Metropolis, and I.D. magazine, among others. Méndez has received extensive international recognition, including artist residencies at the Gunnar Gunnarson Institute in Iceland and at The Arctic Circle. Méndez is a California Community Foundation Fellow and member of the Artist Pension Trust, México City.
Méndez’s art practice is in various media—photography, 16mm film, video, and installation—with which she explores the nature of perception and media representation, specifically how cultures express themselves through the style of nature that they produce at a given time and the medium through which they construct this nature. She moves through different scales with ease—from photographic prints, to immersive sound and video installations, to murals of more than 25,000 square feet, to installations involving sixty-foot boulders and tons of lava rock. She considers the journey as a medium in itself and has produced a significant body of work based on travels to unfamiliar and extreme places such as Iceland, Patagonia, and the Sahara, where she is awakened to a heightened level of perception.
Méndez’s interest in the nature of matter—in cycles and systems, specifically the forces and cross-rhythmic tensions that make natural phenomena emerge—stem from her growing up in two seemingly entropic environments, Mexico City and the Mexican jungle, where she would follow her father in pursuit of Mayan archaeology. Common to both environments is hypercomplexity, multiplicity, and constant change. Méndez’s move to Los Angeles and her expeditions to geologically young Iceland have furthered this impetus.
Méndez’s work is driven by the concept of élan vital, developed by the French philosopher Henri Bergson, who described it as “the explosive internal force that life carries within itself,” which he claimed animates all being. Her At Any Given Moment series is further informed by the ideas of the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who said: “We are all transistors, in the literal sense. People always think they are in the world, but they never realize that they are the world.” As explained by cultural theorist Sanford Kwinter, what Stockhausen means is that there are no phenomena in the natural world that do not manifest themselves as vibratory or rhythmic phenomena. Those vibrations attack us; they modulate us and, in the end, become us.
Rebeca Méndez lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Adam Eeuwens, and their two cats.