In the immersive installation See and Missed, artist Camille Hoffman invites visitors to enter a landscape of water, sky, and earth. Combining colorful painting with objects that hold deep personal and cultural meaning, much of her imagery reconsiders mass-produced, romanticized stock photographs of the Philippines and the California coast. By reclaiming these images that are without historical context and human presence, she creates a specific and sacred space that shares a multi-dimensional reality connected to her seafaring ancestors. In Hoffman’s installation, we are invited as viewers to move between worlds, much like waking up in a new and unfamiliar place.
Hoffman’s family ancestry is rooted in the Philippines, and her practice throughout her career has involved a unraveling and rethreading of misplaced personal and collective narratives in the wake of colonialism. This work directly references the historic date of October 18, 1587, when the first Filipinos stepped foot on Chumash land and the present-day Continental United States at Morro Bay, California. They arrived as crew members aboard the Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza, which was a part of the Manila galleon trade under Spanish rule. After three days ashore, the crew met the Chumash people, which ultimately resulted in the death of one Filipino and one Spanish crew member.
The Philippines was a colony of Spain from 1565-1898, and a territory of the United States between 1898-1946. For centuries preceding Spanish colonization, Indigenous Filipinos developed sophisticated seafaring wisdom and technology that supported their livelihood and enabled them to travel far distances between and beyond the Philippine archipelago. At the time of the 1587 landing and for the duration of the Manila galleon trade, many Indigenous Filipinos (referred to at the time as Luzon Indios or Manila Men) were exploited for their labor and seafaring expertise, building and working the Spanish ships. The Balangay, poetically referenced by the bench viewers are invited to sit on, is a traditional vessel sailed by Indigenous Filipinos as far back as 320 AD. In Hoffman’s rendition, the Balangay form is also echoed in a 19th century piña cloth embroidered by the artist and suspended above the space as a spirit boat offering for her ancestors. The materials included in this exhibition — the piña cloth, nurse’s gowns, sourced imagery in collaged paintings, even the cracks in the floor — all offer layered reflections on where our histories come from, and the objects that signify them.
About the Artist
Camille Hoffman uses materials collected from childhood and her everyday life to craft imaginary landscapes that are grounded in accumulation, rehabilitation, personal narrative, and historical critique. Taking inspiration from the Philippine weaving and storytelling traditions of her ancestors on the islands and on American soil, she combines paint with found landscapes to reveal seamless yet textured transcultural contradictions.
May 27, 6–8 PM: Member Preview of See and Missed. Click here to RSVP.
Jun 1, 5:30 PM: Artist’s Panel with artist Camille Hoffman in conversation with Ryan Buyco, Associate Professor of the Ethnic Studies Department at Cal Poly and moderated by Lydia Heberling, Assistant Professor of English and Indigenous Studies at Cal Poly. Free and open to the public, but seating is limited to 40 participants. RSVP required: click here to reserve your seat.
Jun 11, 11 AM: Ribbon cutting of Camille Hoffman’s sculpture on SLOMA’s Mission Plaza lawn. Stick around for a special Second Saturdays family art-making activity related to the exhibition. Both events are free and open to the public.