Born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City, Guillermo Gómez-Peña came to the United States in 1978. His artistic production has centered around his life mission: to make experimental yet accessible art; to work in politically and emotionally charged sites for diverse audiences; and to collaborate across racial, gender, and age boundaries as a gesture of citizen-diplomacy.
As founding member of the bi-national arts collective Border Arts Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (1985-1990), Gómez-Peña was featured in the 1990 Biennale di Venezia. He has participated in a vast number of exhibitions, biennials and festivals including the Sydney Biennial (1992) the Whitney Biennial (1993), Sonart (1999), and Made in California at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (2000). In 1991, he became the first Chicano/Mexicano artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. He has also won a number of awards including: the New York Bessie Award (1989), the Viva Los Artists Award (1993) and the Cineaste Lifetime Achievement Award at Taos Talking Pictures Film Festival (2000). Gómez-Peña’s performance and installation work has been presented at more than five hundred venues across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, the former Soviet Union, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.
Chronicles and scripts of his performances and manifestos have led to the publication of several books, including Dangerous Border Crossers (2000), Codex Espangliensis (2000) and The New World Border (1996), for which he won the American Book Award in 1997. Gómez-Peña has also been a writer and contributing editor for several newspapers and experimental arts magazines, and has participated in national news radio programs.
His work, which includes performance art, video, audio, installations, poetry, journalism, critical writings and cultural theory, explores cross-cultural issues and North/South relations in the era of globalization. Utilizing his body, language and wit as primary tools, Gómez-Peña’s work challenges conventions of race, culture and class. He uses his art and writings to reveal labyrinths of identity and the precipices of nationality.
Gómez-Peña currently lives and works in San Francisco.