The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 Art Program will return with new, large-scale, immersive works and participatory programs by acclaimed local and international artists and designers

View of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2022, photo by Lance Gerber, courtesy Goldenvoice.

2/13/2023 – The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival announced today that its landmark on-site art program will include nine international artists, designers and collectives, as well as open art studios for festival-goers. Presented across the expanse of the Empire Polo Field, the large-scale installations will bring new, multi-sensory dimensions to the Festival’s program of music performances held over two weekends – April 14-16 and April 21-23, 2023. 

Newly-commissioned, sculptural works by artists and designers from France, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the US, Kumkum FernandoVincent LeroyGüvenç Özel, and Maggie West have been selected for their unique influence on global visual culture. Lending color, light and alternate perspectives to the charged atmosphere, their works will act as fresh, colorful and architectural beacons to draw, inspire, nurture and navigate festival goers offering a sense of joy and freedom, respite and shade, and will transform the iconic Coachella landscape at various times of day and night. The new works will be presented for the first time amongst previously debuted visitor favorites Robert BoseDo LaBDon Kennell and NEWSUBSTANCE, and community-based initiatives by Raices Cultura and the Coachella Art Studios.

“Surprise encounters with these outsized projects in the middle of the valley, surrounded by music and the collective energy of the crowd has become a much-anticipated shared experience at the Festival, and some of the works have been woven into the archetypal imagery of Coachella,” commented Paul Clemente, who manages the art program for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. “The arts program has evolved significantly since inception and the participants, who come from around the world and from Southern California are well-respected in their fields, presenting extraordinary and thoughtful works in a setting where they can inspire, inform, and invite direct engagement with art and current social and cultural themes and ideas. It is a unique aspect of this Festival, and we really endeavor to carry that spark into the community with adjacent school programs and our on-site Coachella Arts Studios.”

Curatorial Advisor Raffi Lehrer added, “In selecting projects from around the world, our intention is to bring together artists, architects and designers whose practices invite participation, inclusion, and transformation. We strive to create a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural program that reflects our audience and the many performing artists that grace the stages of the festival. The resulting works will become icons — part of the identity of this year’s show. These installations act simultaneously as way-finding markers, points of congregation, and most importantly, accessible entry points for all show-goers to experience art.”

Sri Lankan-born artist Kumkum Fernando transforms found objects into art that is informed by thousands of years of Sri Lankan culture. From ornate temple paintings to folktales and their vast underworld of gods, giants and demons, Fernando proudly derives inspiration from this heritage, bridging fine art and design with a deep appreciation for ancient and traditional forms, even marrying his pieces with self-penned poetry.

The desert setting is apropos for the work of French artist Vincent Leroy, who often journeys to the overlooked and sometimes uninhabitable corners of the world to display his ethereal artwork and challenge our perception of real and imagined spaces in the context of our increasingly digitized world. Manipulating ripples, reflections and superimpositions to reveal new dimensions, his installations prompt contemplation and meditation, touching the body and releasing emotions.

Cyber Physical Turkish architect, artist and critical technologist Güvenç Özel is an interdisciplinary innovator and internationally-recognized pioneer of Extended Reality, interactive robotics and machine learning in architecture. For his investigation into how contemporary technology and media shapes the socio-political and aesthetic landscape of digital culture and the built environment, he introduced the world to architectural and artistic applications of augmented reality with a curatorial intervention at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Maggie West, a Los Angeles based artist from North Carolina is known for her colorful photo and video art installations with plants and flowers that push the boundaries of traditional time lapse photography, and exist at the intersection of documentation and fantasy. Her large-scale photography-based, sculptural installations have become a significant part of the Los Angeles cultural landscape. Her work for this year’s festival, which promises to bring a bold superbloom to the festival’s desert landscape, will be one of the world’s largest three-dimensional color photography installations.

New York artist Robert Bose, the mastermind behind the quarter-mile long kinetic Balloon Chain, Do LaB, the Los Angeles-based creative team that reimagines venues into fantastical and interactive experiences inspired by human connection, authenticity, and environmental sustainability, and Don Kennell, the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based artist, whose monumental animal sculptures connect audiences through the exploration of nature and community return alongside UK art and design studio NEWSUBSTANCE, which creates performative, site-specific and temporal works around the world. Their stunning, seven-floor architecturally-inspired pavilion Spectra, returns to the festival for its fourth year inviting festival-goers to journey through its spiral design saturated in color to experience a new outlook on the world around them. Spectragarnered the The Architect’s Newspaper 2018 Best of Design Award in the Lighting-Outdoor category as well as a 2018 Gold prize from the International Design Awards. NEWSUBSTANCE recently transformed a decommissioned oil-rig into SEE MONSTER, one of the UK’s largest public art installations.

Committed to art, culture and empowerment and led by Coachella Valley-based multidisciplinary artist, educator and executive director Marnie L. Navarro, Raices Cultura, a grassroots arts and culture nonprofit organization located in the city of Coachella, will again recruit and mentor 20 youth who live in the East Valley cities of Coachella, Indio, Mecca, Thermal, and La Quinta to form an artist cohort and build an art installation for the festival campground based on their shared approach to theme and aesthetics. 

The women-led Coachella Art Studios will provide a safe, immersive and inclusive space for Festival-goers to explore their creativity and express themselves. Founded in 2008, and produced by LA-based public art program specialist Sarah Scheideman as an arts and crafts tent, the Coachella Art Studios have expanded to a 5,000 square foot studio space with the help of former festival art program participant and Coachella Valley artist Sofía Enriquez and a team of local creatives. Colorful and thoughtfully designed to be approachable, participants use sustainably-sourced clothing, clay and other materials to create and transform clothes, make jewelry and accessories, formulate their own blends of aromatherapy. and draw from live models.

Tied to the festival’s commitment to providing a platform for the work of local and international artists through its public and community-based art programs, TRASHed (Trash Education), first initiated by the Global Inheritance arm of Coachella in 2004, continues to offer talented artists the opportunity to turn ordinary recycling bins into works of art that inspire people across the globe to see the beauty in recycling. 

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