Wk 5 – Artist Conversation – Ralph Acosta

Exhibit Information

Artist: Ralph Acosta

Exhibition: RELAX: REIMAGINGING LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Media: Video, Graphics, Photography

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Marilyn Werby Gallery

Website: N/A

Instagram: N/A

About the Artist

Ralph Acosta grew up in the city of Los Angeles in the 1960’s and 1970’s. His childhood and life experiences influenced the themes and ideas explored in this exhibition. Not surprisingly, LAX is his favorite airport in the world. Acosta is currently a graduate student pursuing his MFA in the School of Art’s Graphic Design program. This year will be his last year in the three year program he is currently enrolled in at CSULB.

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Formal Analysis

Upon entering the room, one is greeted by a wall full of photographs and graphic designs. The photographs consists of buildings found in LAX. The architecture of the buildings inspired the graphic designs that decorate the rest of the northern wall. In the north wall there is also a graphic design showing an arrivals and gates sign. It is important to note that all the graphic designs follow the same color scheme: blue and orange. Then, in the eastern wall, there is a giant orange “b” and a series of pictures that show different sections of an airport. The southern wall consists of more graphic designs and a video that projects an app that allows one to experience the landing of airplanes. Finally, the western wall is filled with a video projection displaying a short film about airports and some fun facts about airports.

Content Analysis

In his work, Ralph Acosta explores the romanticism that was associated with the golden age of air travel. Acosta explained that when he was a kid, going to the airport was a big event. People would dress up in fancy clothes whether they were going to catch a flight or simply drop off a loved one. Today, the romanticism involved in the airport is gone due to how overwhelming and hectic going through security screening has become. Due to the disconnected designs and united atmosphere found in LAX, Acosta decided to dedicate his exhibition to LAX. In his exhibition, Acosta re-designed LAX. He based his graphic designs in some of the iconic architecture that made LAX so famous. Acosta synthesized a retro feel to his exhibition all while making the airport experience more fun by using the same bright and uniform color scheme.

For example, the departures sign is a big, orange “b” that catches ones’ attention right away. The same could be said for the sign that indicates where the restrooms are located. Currently, going to LAX is a frenzy filled experience that is not alleviated by the myriad of designs in each of the terminals, but stepping into Acosta’s exhibition gives one a glimpse of what the LAX experience would be if they were to revamp their designs. In fact, Ralph Acosta has a picture of the united airlines terminal with his designs photo shopped in the picture in order to give the audience an idea of what his designs would look like in real life.

Synthesis / My Experience

When I first entered the exhibition, I wasn’t very sure of what I was looking at. I knew it had to do with LAX and the experience one has in an airport, but I didn’t truly grasp the ideas and themes explored until Ralph Acosta was kind enough to talk to my classmates and me about his work. When I heard him utter the word “romantic” and “golden age”, I Immediately knew what he was talking about. Although I don’t go to the airport very often, it’s true that most people wear comfortable clothing when going to the airport. I typically try to strike a balance between comfortable and dressed up. However, since the airport has never been a huge memory of my childhood, I could not say that I relate to the feeling of nostalgia in an airport. What I can relate this feeling of nostalgia is movies. I enjoy watching movies from the golden age from both the United States and Mexico.

When I was in high school, I would love to wonder what it would have been like to go watch a movie in the theater during the golden age. However, I am grateful that I live in the present because so many of my favorite films would not have been possible without today’s technology. That is why I love and appreciate the movies of the past, but realize that change is vital for growth and improvement. Acosta recognizes this as well. He realizes that TSA screening is essential for the safety of everyone in the airport and he wouldn’t change that, but he would like to see a change in the design because this would be harmless and not compromise anyone’s safety. Overall, I thought his exhibition was lovely.

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