As Above So Below

Sherwin Rio

As Above So Below

December 3, 2022 – February 25, 2023


Sherwin Rio is an interdisciplinary artist working in San Francisco who makes site-specific and research-based work in sculpture, installation, video, performance, and audio. For his exhibition at 500 Capp Street, Rio is inspired by Ireland’s affinity for enclosure, particularly his deep interest in the House’s basement, a space Ireland called “The Grotto” where he sourced dirt for his work and spent many hours in solitude.

Framed by Ireland’s dual relationship to architecture above and below, Rio is creating works that provide alternative, inverse ways of experiencing a house—indebted to the past, the unseen, and the underground.

In one work, Rio opens up the floorboards to reveal a hidden stairwell and extends it, in plexiglass, into the Solarium room above. Rio also finds inspiration in Ireland’s basement, in the network of pipes and electrical conduit, and merges this with an artwork that Ireland made by recording the sound of the pipes and walls. Rio’s sculptural sound installation transmits and amplifies vibrational sound within the House– “I see these items–webs of ABS, PVC, unistrut, wood, soil and conduit–as the veins that bring lifeblood to the house, preserving its ability to function–a need that preceded Ireland and continues into the future,” writes Rio.

Rio also presents a video document of an installation in the House’s inaccessible attic. Responding to Ireland’s dining room—filled with problematic objects, photographs, and animal trophies from safari travels—Rio brings these archival materials to the hidden attic and fills it with household fans, clearing and re-circulating air as a gestural symbol. Rio writes, “The work is a critical look at the commodification of nature and culture, dominance and violence as leisure, and a business that profited from and upheld ideas born of settler-colonialism, manifest destiny, and global capitalism.”

Additional installation works will be presented throughout the House as well. Rio will live at 500 Capp Street for 10 days in order to develop work for the exhibition.

Sherwin Rio is an interdisciplinary artist who makes visual metaphors addressing colonization, historical public amnesia, and intergenerational storytelling through a Filipinx-American lens. He has exhibited and performed as a solo and collaborative artist throughout the US in venues such as: de Young Museum, Asian Art Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carlsbad Museum of Art, San Jose State University, Portland State University, Dominican University, University of Northern Colorado, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Human Resources, and Torpedo Factory. Awards include a 2019 Graduate Fellowship at Headlands Center for the Arts, the 2019 International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, the 2018 Ella King Torrey Award for Innovation & Excellence in the Arts, and the 2017 Jack K. and Gertrude Murphy Fellowship Award. 

Acknowledgements: This exhibition would not have been possible without the support of Mary Valledor and the Carlos Villa Estate, and Colin Fernandes.