Pepón Osorio

Laura Carnell Professor of Community Art
Tyler School of the Arts
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Pepón Osorio lives and works in Philadelphia. He received his MA from Columbia University in 1985. In 2006 he had a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and also received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Pepón Osorio is best known for multimedia works that combine elements of popular culture, domestic life and performance in order to address political and cultural issues concerning Latino communities in the United States.

Moving to New York in 1975 Osorio spent five years as a social worker in the Bronx and, influenced by this experience, he became interested in how art can effect social change by attending to social problems. Stating that his "principal commitment as an artist is to return art to the community,” his elaborate installations often evolve from an interaction with the neighborhoods and people among whom he is working.

In fact, while he has exhibited internationally in museums and galleries, Osorio has also presented his works in storefronts, department stores, and private homes in many locations throughout the world. Using a visual vocabulary that incorporates the colorful plethora of pop cultural knickknacks associated with a Latino aesthetic of embellishment and decoration, his work points up how issues of race, class, and economy affect the value that we place upon objects and images.

In this merging of conceptual art and community dynamics, Osorio’s art embraces a cross-disciplinary approach where questions of cultural history, identity, and justice are brought to the fore.