Méndez is an artist, designer, and professor at UCLA, Design Media Arts, where she is director of the CounterForce Lab, a research and fieldwork studio dedicated to using art and design to develop creative collaborations, new fields of study, and methods to research, create, and execute projects around the social and ecological impacts of anthropocene climate change.
Her research and practice investigates design and media art in public space, critical approaches to public identities and landscape, and artistic projects based on field investigation methods. Méndez’s art is driven by her interest in perception and embodied experience. Her diverse works—photography, 16mm film, book arts, design, and architectural scale sound and video installations—have been exhibited widely at significant institutions and biennials worldwide.
Solo exhibitions include, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Hammer Museum, Nevada Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, Mexico. Group exhibitions include, the 55th Venice Biennial, El Paso Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Méndez’s work is represented in numerous public and private collections, including at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Anchorage Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nevada Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, El Paso Museum of Art, and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Méndez has curated several exhibitions including the Istanbul Light Festival, Istanbul, Turkey (2015) and Rebeca Méndez Selects at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2018).
Reviews of her work have appeared in Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, T Magazine (blog), The White House (blog), El Pais, Spain, The San Francisco Chronicle, art ltd, Wallpaper*, Eye, Metropolis, IDEA, and I.D. magazines, among others.
Selected permanent public art commissions include, multiple murals for the University of Cincinnati Recreation Center, 2018; Metro Art for two permanent public art commissions for the Expo Line, Crenshaw Station, Los Angeles, 2016–2019; January 8 Memorial Foundation to design the memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the shooting of congress woman Gabrielle Giffords and her community in Tucson, Arizona, 2015–2019; Los Angeles County Arts Commission for three commissions—two for the Pico Rivera Public Library (2013) and one for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (2008); and two commissions for the University of Cincinnati Recreation Center (2005–06).
Selected awards include, Medal of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts), 2017; Induction to the One Club Hall of Fame, New York, 2017; City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artist Fellowship, 2013; National Design Award in Communication Design, bestowed by the White House and the Smithsonian Institution, 2012; and the California Community Foundation Mid Career Fellowship for Visual Artist, 2010. Méndez is known for her career-long commitment to ‘design and art as a social force,’ and was awarded the ‘2016 Vision Over Violence Humanitarian Award,’ by Peace Over Violence, Los Angeles.
Méndez’s interests and initiatives are a bridge between art, design and science, and demonstrate a commitment to the environment and a sustainable future. Méndez has served as juror for the Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award, 2017 and 2018 and is currently serving as co-chair for the 2018 National Design Awards.