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Manglano-Ovalle Wins $50,000 USA Fellow Award

Professor raises social, political questions in his elegant, ambitious art

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December 16, 2011 | by Wendy Leopold
Inigo Manglano-Ovalle has created projects that make abstractions -- such as DNA or a cloud -- tangible.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Artist and Northwestern University Professor Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle --who once created a video installation block party in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods -- was named a USA Fellow this week. With awards of $50,000, the fellowships are given each year to 50 outstanding visual, literary and performing artists.

A professor of art theory and practice in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Manglano-Ovalle is known for his technologically sophisticated artworks that combine sculpture and video to raise questions about social and political issues. “The quality and ambition of his work have won him many of the highest honors the contemporary art world has to bestow,” said art theory and practice chair Lane Relyea.

A 2001 winner of a MacArthur (“genius”) Fellowship, Manglano-Ovalle often creates elegant forms that mask social and political themes, such as immigration, climate change and gun violence. Working with scientists, he has created projects that make abstractions -- such as DNA or a cloud -- tangible.

Manglano-Ovalle has had solo or group exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art and Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; and other venues around the world.

Born in Spain, Manglano-Ovalle was raised in Chicago. His acclaimed “Gravity Is A Force To Be Reckoned With” is a 25-by-25 foot recreation of a famous but never-built glass house designed by pioneering Chicago architect Mies van der Rohe. The sculpture/video piece was part of an in-depth look by the Whitney Museum of van der Rohe’s early career. 

In addition to working with graduate students, Manglano-Ovalle will teach an undergraduate video art class in the upcoming quarter. In spring quarter, he will teach “Alternatives to the Object,” a class in which students learn to create conceptual- and performance-based art.