Michael Arcega

Michael Arcega

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

California College of Arts

Michael Arcega is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in sculpture and installation. Though visual, his art revolves largely around language. Directly informed by historic events, material significance, and the format of jokes, his subject matter deals with sociopolitical circumstances where power relations are unbalanced.


As a naturalized American, there is a geographic dimension to Michael’s investigation of cultural markers. These markers are embedded in objects, food, architecture, visual lexicons, and vernacular languages. For instance, vernacular Tagalog is infused with Spanish and English words, lending itself to verbal mutation. This malleability result in wordplay and jokes that transform words like Persuading to First wedding, Tenacious to Tennis Shoes, Devastation to The Bus Station, and Masturbation to Mass Starvation. His practice draws from the sensibility of both insider and outsider—subtly jumbling signifier, material, linguistics, and site.

His work has been exhibited at venues including the deYoung Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the Orange County Museum of Art, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Blaffer Gallery in Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Cue Arts Foundation, and the Asia Society in New York City.

Arcega’s work has been discussed in publications including Art Forum, New York Times, Art News, X-TRA, SF Chronicle, Artweek, Art Papers, and Flash Art, among others. He is a recipient of an Art Council grant (Artadia), Joan Mitchell MFA Award, Murphy Cadogan Fine Arts Fellowship, and Headlands Center for the Arts MFA Fellowship. He has been an Artist in Residence at the 18th Street Art Center, Montalvo Arts Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Fountainhead Residency, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program (via Artadia).

Michael was born in Manila, Philippines, and migrated to the Los Angeles area at ten years of age. He relocated to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute where he received a B.F.A. And later, he attended Stanford University for his M.F.A. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California.

View Michael Arcega’s page on the Marx & Zavattero website.


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