Nica Aquino (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist & analogue photographer from Los Angeles, CA. She holds a BFA in Photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR & a MA with Merit in Contemporary Visual Culture from the School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Manchester, United Kingdom; Belgrade, Serbia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Metro Manila, Philippines; and nationally in Portland, OR; Los Angeles, CA; San Antonio, TX.
“My work reveals place, identity & the cross-cultural experience largely through a photographic lens. Via analogue photography, viewers see through the eyes of a first generation Ilokana-American trying to navigate North American culture & drawing inspiration from the people & places around me, exploring diverse immigrant diasporas & communities in the US & beyond. Most recently, my work has expanded to experiment with textiles, installation, video & sound; examining themes of memory & loss, specifically how we [re]visit/[re]create memories & how different tiers of loss ranging from death to post-colonial melancholia are subconsciously embedded in these memories.
Aside from spending my early adolescence moving between states & continents, I grew up within immigrant, working class inner-city neighborhoods on the cusps of Koreatown, Pico-Union & Mid-City, Los Angeles. I am now residing in the Northeast LA community, where I work as a full-time curator. In my curatorial practice, I aim to provide a platform for artists of color and others navigating feelings of unbelonging. As an individual that has had the opportunity to get educated and access many resources, I know it is my responsibility as an artist and curator to use my privilege to uplift others also existing within the margins, and lend visibility to the communities and stories experiencing erasure.”
— Nica Aquino
Aquino’s work as a whole speaks to her background as a first-generation Ilokana-American individual navigating through various diasporic communities away from her ancestral homelands. This theme, found throughout the DISplace exhibition and carried in her creative practice, is also reflected in these film photographs. Taken during her experience in the prestigious annual Merrie Monarch hula festival, these show the connections — not the separation — that Filipinx and other Pasifika/Asian communities have found in Hawaiʻi. The images give a behind-the-scenes perspective rarely seen in this context, and offer the viewer a sense of the multidimensional experience Aquino had by being invited to the festival as a performer.