“Cat and Carm” by Shizu Saldamando. Gold leaf and oil on wood, 2008. Collection of the artist. (© Shizu Saldamando)

Shizu Saldamando, who is featured in the exhibition “Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter,” will give an artist talk and portrait workshop on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.

Shizu Saldamando (Rafu Shimpo photo)

Saldamando depicts how American social spaces are the laboratories for new ways of being. Her portraits playfully suggest that race, gender, and ethnicity act as white noise to the scene at hand; audible, yet not identifiable.

Saldamando’s visual biographies, which use friends as her subjects, capture the energy of youthful experimentation and the freedom of malleable categories for identity.

Born to parents of Japanese and Mexican descent, Saldamando resides in Los Angeles but grew up in San Francisco. She attended UCLA for her undergraduate work and received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

About arriving in Los Angeles, she says: “Growing up in the Mission district in San Francisco, it was predominantly a hip-hop culture. Here in Los Angeles, I’d go to shows or house parties, and it would be all Latino kids listening to the Cure and the Smiths. In L.A., I felt normal for the first time.”

Saldamando’s meticulous collaged paintings offer the viewer a subtlety of influences to ponder.

“Portraiture Now,” presented by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, also features works by CYJO, Zhang Chun Hong, Hye Yeon Nam, Roger Shimomura, Satomi Shirai and Tam Tran. It closes on Sept. 22.

This group of artists demonstrates, in microcosm, the nuances inherent to the Asian American experience. Their portraits of encounter offer representations against and beyond the stereotypes that have long obscured the complexity of being Asian in America and reveal the threads of contemporary life in novel ways.

Note: Sunday, Aug. 25, is the last day for another JANM exhibition, “Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History.”

For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

On the Web: www.shizusaldamando.com

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