star montana i dream of los angeles

Last Updated on April 9, 2021

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When Star Montana was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, she longed for California sunshine and dreamed of the light and the people of Los Angeles. A Boyle Heights native, she returned home periodically, trips during which she took a number of the photos on view in Beta Main. When Montana moved back to Los Angeles after graduation, the reality—the nightmare—of traumatic events with family and friends awaited her. Despite the circumstances, her dream of Los Angeles continues through her photography practice and is captured in the images in this exhibition.

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Many of the subjects in Montana’s photography are strangers she got to know when she approached them in East L.A. or South L.A., engaged them in conversation, and then asked to take their pictures. Some are friends and others she met via an open-call process to add to this body of work as part of her residency at The Main that preceded this exhibition. With honesty and sensitivity in equal measure, Montana endeavors to give visibility to those who are not often represented in art or art institutions. Each label contains Montana’s observations about her subjects and their contexts excerpted from a conversation between the artist and The Main director Allison Agsten. These texts complement and reveal Montana’s dialogical process, which typically involves a lengthy exchange just prior to each photo session. The full transcript can be read here.

PAST PROGRAMSSEP 24, 2017 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Danza Azteca: Honoring the Past, Blessings for the Future

Danzas and blessings performed by Krystal EscalanteAnahuacalmecac International University Preparatory, and Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo.SEP 16, 2017 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Artist Walk-through with Star Montana

Artist walk-through with Star Montana.AUG 12, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM Vulnerability, the Birthplace of Creativity: A Workshop Led by Star Montana

Vulnerability workshop with Star Montana.AUG 3, 2017 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM See Me Now: A Conversation with Star Montana and Shizu Saldamando

Conversation with Star Montana and Shizu Saldamando.JUL 22, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM How We Do It

Panel discussion with Star MontanaValerie J. BowerArlene Mejorado, and Desilu Munoz.MAY 20, 2017 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Artist Walk-through: Star Montana

In this intimate gallery talk, Star Montana will share the stories behind her portraits of friends, acquaintances, and strangers in East L.A. and South L.A.MAY 7, 2017 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM Opening Reception: Star Montana with Alice Könitz

Join us for the public opening reception of Star Montana’s portraiture with Alice Könitz’s experiments in museum seating.


Star Montana (b. 1987) is a photo-based artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, a predominantly Mexican American neighborhood that serves as the backdrop to much of her work. Montana’s imagery deals with class, social environment, and identity within the personal and her family. Three dots and Tear drops—a long-term project with her family that has dealt with fragmented histories, loss, and the hope of the next generation—was recently on view at the Vincent Price Art Museum and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Recently, Montana has begun work on her themes within a larger scope of Los Angeles residents via portraiture and video. Montana received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2013.