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Meet Marcel Pardo Ariza: Curator, Educator, & Trans Visual Artist You Should Know

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The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights Bay Area artists who are doing incredible work, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place. 

Marcel Pardo Ariza, waist up, red top, grey suit, blond hair

Marcel Pardo Ariza outside their opening as SF Camerawork

Marcel Pardo Ariza is quite a hard artist to miss these days in the best possible way. They are originally from Bogota Colombia. They have lived in the Bay Area for almost a decade. Marcel is a trans visual artist, curator, and educator. Their work explores the relationship between queer and trans kinship. They do this through photographs and site-specific installations that take great care to cultivate a visual space to show the value of collective care and intergenerational connection.

Working in collaboration with their subjects, Marcel hopes to provide artistic opportunities that are nonhierarchical and equitable. You can see their current work at the show Dismantling Monoliths at SF Camerawork, curated by Jamil Hellu. Their conceptual goals are realized in a series of images that are as tender as they are thought-provoking. Marcel Pardo Ariza is most certainly an artist to get to know.

Artist Name: Marcel Pardo Ariza

Web site:
Artist IG: @marcelpardoa
Artist Medium(s): photography, site-specific installation

photography by Marcel Pardo Ariza


What was your first job in the Bay Area?

One of the first jobs I had was doing set design at Restoration Hardware with Stosh Fila who became my mentor. We were doing sets and painting walls. Stosh was the first trans boss I had and I realized what a healthy working relationship could look like.

I’m a sophisticated graduate with a BFA or FUCK art school!

I graduated from SFAI with an MFA in 2016. I chose it because it was had a great photographic history and I loved the architecture. They also had a good scholarship that made is feasible for me to attend.

Marcel speaking at the opening of Dismantling Monoliths at SF Camerawork

You started your art career doing…?

First I was doing photographic work. I was building my own frames. A lot of the work was about humor and queer representation. And then it turned into queer archives and how we could take better care of the stories from our past.

Your art recently explores…?

My recent work is about how our relationship to touch has changed during the pandemic. How intimacy between friends is as important as romantic love. When I changed my body my way of feeling touch also changed. When you have a new body you experience the world differently. That’s all I’m going to say about that here.

Any artists you think are particularly outstanding right now in the Bay Area?

There are so many people that I love and admire. Maria Guzman Capron and Angela Hennesy. I like Angela Hennesy because she’s talking about issues of death and grief in a very profound way. She’s very healing with her practice. I really like her a lot. I think Chelsea Wong is also great. She does painting about joy and the Bay Area and celebrating life which I think we need more of too.

Favorite place to see art in the Bay Area?

That’s a good question. I think Southern Exposure has been an artist run space for a very long time and they give a lot of opportunities to emerging artists. It’s always exciting to see what they are working on.

Currently on display at SF Camerawork

What’s coming up next for you?

Currently, I’m at the SF MOMA as part of the 2022 SECA Exhibition. There is the show up at SF Camerawork. There is a show in February at San Francisco State University, Have You Seen Me? I’ve got a residency at 500 Capp starting March 11th. On March 2nd there will be a free drag show at SF MOMA called Feel the Future. We are hoping to take drag culture out of the bar context and put it in a different setting.

Current Shows:

Dismantling+Monoliths_SF+Camerawork.  ©Henrik Kam

Curated by Jamil Hellu

January 17 – March 25, 2023

Opening Reception: Saturday, January 21, 3-6 pm
Location: Fort Mason Center, Building A

More info

2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition


2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition

December 17, 2022–May 29, 2023

Floor 2

The 2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition is free, along with all Floor 2 galleries, through May 29, 2023!

The 2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition celebrates Bay Area artists Binta Ayofemi, Maria A. Guzmán Capron, Cathy Lu, Marcel Pardo Ariza, and Gregory Rick. Each artist fills a different Floor 2 gallery with new, site-specific work showcasing their distinctive and exciting practices.

More Info here

Upcoming Shows:

Marcel Pardo Ariza’s Orquídea/Orchid

Grant provided by the Kenneth Rainin Open Spaces Program

We’re proud to announce that 500 Capp Street and visual artist Marcel Prado Ariza (they/them) are the recipients of a grant from The Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s Open Spaces Program. 500 Capp Street will be supporting Ariza’s work Orquídea/Orchid through their engagement with the history and activities of the trans-community here in San Francisco’s Mission District in collaboration with translatina advocacy group El/La Para Translatinas.

Marcel Pardo Ariza’s Orquídea/Orchid

Marcel’s Website:


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Vita Hewitt

Vita Hewitt

Vita is a half Chinese-Malaysian, photograph taking, plant foraging, vegetable garden growing, astronaut impersonating, conceptual art creating Bay Area human. She loves exploring the intricacies of the Bay Area Art Scene.

1 Comment

  1. Moi
    February 3, 2023 at 4:28 am — Reply

    Cool piece. Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate the idea that art is branching out, and coming to terms with some of the monoliths and walls that have been put in place for years and years.

    Marcel Pardo Ariza seems to be doing it right. They get the transgressive nature of art and they get the idea of bringing people into the conversation. Kudos!

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