Pepón Osorio

Pepón Osorio, best known for large-scale installations, was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, in 1955. He was educated at the Universidad Inter-Americana in Puerto Rico and Herbert H. Lehman College in New York, and received an MA from Columbia University in 1985. Osorio’s pieces, influenced by his experience as a social worker in The Bronx, usually evolve from an interaction with the neighborhoods and people among which he is working; he says, “My principal commitment as an artist is to return art to the community.”

A recent example is Tina’s House, a project created in collaboration with a family recovering from a devastating fire. The house—a tabletop-size art piece—tells the story of the night of the fire and those affected, and is traveling the country in a series of Home Visits: a home visit invites a new family to live with the artwork for a period of at least one week, allowing the story of Tina’s House to be told in many homes and environments.

Osorio’s work has been shown at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; El Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; and El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. Pepón Osorio lives in Philadelphia.

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Conversation Starter

What details make a home?

Like all people, artists grapple with the definition and memory of home.

Teaching with Contemporary Art

Rooted in the Home: Thoughts on Building Connections Between Students & Artists

Educator-in-Residence Jocelyn Salaz offers insight into how incorporating familiar aesthetics can help students identify with artists.

Deep Focus

Polyculturalist Visions, New Frameworks of Representation: Multiculturalism and the American Culture Wars

Nettrice Gaskins examines the ongoing crisis of representation in cultural institutions, ultimately arriving at what she sees as a “polyculturalist” future for art, in which it moves away from dialectical identity politics to a sphere of fluid identities.

Interview

“Home Visits”

Pepón Osorio discusses his Home Visits, instances in which a new family lives with an artwork for a period of time, allowing the story of each piece to be told in many homes and environments.

Interview

“Scene of the Crime (Whose Crime?)”

In this interview, Pepón Osorio talks about his 2003 installation piece, Scene of the Crime (Whose Crime?), which the artist is shown installing at Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico in Season 1 of Art in the Twenty-First Century.

It’s hard to explain what I’m trying to do as an artist, because I don’t fit the artist description.

Pepón Osorio