Lewis deSoto, an artist of Cahuilla ancestry, is internationally recognized for his photographs, installations, sculpture and public art that engage cosmological questions, notions of self, and cultural mythologies. Educated at UC Riverside and Claremont Graduate University, he taught at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, served as the Director of Graduate Studies at California College of the Arts, and is currently a professor of Art at San Francisco State University. He has been exhibiting his art professionally for over 30 years and his artworks can be found in museum collections around the country, most notably the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In November 2015, his Empire series will open at Cal State University San Bernardino with an accompanying publication, and in February 2016, selections of this body of work will be shown at the Palm Springs Art Museum. In late spring, deSoto is scheduled for a solo show at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and he was recently chosen to participate in the 2016 SITE Santa Fe Biennial.
Influenced by anthropology, sociology, history, religion, literature and music, deSoto is recognized for his conceptual artwork, as well as his culturally-specific and site-specific installations that transform spaces through light, audio and video. In talking about Tahquitz, a site-specific collaboration with Erin Neff at UCR’s Culver Center for the Arts in 2012, he states, “I’m a big believer in the fact that culture is always hybridizing and building on existing forms, combining others. The idea that a western form of singing could harmonize with an ancient indigenous song is very interesting to me. We often think of these cultures being at odds, but in fact there are many ways in which these cultures have created new ones.” This statement encapsulates a personal philosophy that emerges within a number of deSoto’s artworks.