As an interdisciplinary artist, I work across media to create art that is informed by language, history, and geography. In current works, I adopt methodologies used in the anthropological study of world cultures that often emphasize “otherness,” but turning the tables, positioning North America as ‘the other” whose symbols and rituals must be studied and understood. Though a socio-political critique, my work also has a playful element, providing familiar entry points to alternative ways of thinking about the people who colonize the landscape.

The work collapses fiction and myth with certainty and empirical facts from research. Folktales and memories intersected with current and historic events creates a logical rift that can be exploited poetically. Through the lens of a naturalized citizen, the question of authenticity becomes fugitive and the lines of truth are blurred. I reimagine familiar forms that conjure historic parallels from my colonized past while looking for remedies in the colonizer’s landscape.


Michael Arcega is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in sculpture and installation. His research-based work revolves largely around language and sociopolitical dynamics. Directly informed by Historic narratives, material significance, and geography, his subject matter deals with circumstances where power relations are unbalanced.

As a naturalized American, his investigation of cultural 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, and Masturbation to Mass Starvation. His practice draws from the sensibility of the insider and outsider- jumbling signifier, material, linguistics, and site.

Michael has a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from Stanford University. His work has been exhibited at venues including the Asian Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Orange County Museum of Art, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Cue Arts Foundation, and the Asia Society in NY among many others.

Arcega’s work has been discussed in publications including Art Forum, the New York Times, Art Practical, Art News, X-TRA, SF Chronicle, Artweek, Art Papers, and Flash Art among others. He is a recipient of an Artadia grant, Joan Mitchell MFA Award, Murphy Cadogan Fine Arts Fellowship, among others. He has been an Artist in Residence at the 18th Street Art Center, Montalvo Arts Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Fountainhead Residency, Artadia Residency at ISCP, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Al Riwak Art Space in Bahrain, and the Recology Artist Residency Program. He was awarded a 2012 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts.

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 college. He currently lives and works in San Francisco, California where he is an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University.