The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art is pleased to present Tailings, a new installation by Las Vegas artist Jeannie Hua. Rooted in personal research and on-site investigation, Tailings asks viewers to acknowledge and question the historic neglect of Asian Americans who participated in the settlement of the American West.
The artist draws attention to the inequitable treatment of Chinese Americans by focusing on one aspect of the history of Tonopah, Nevada. While investigating the background of the area, she learned that in the past the town’s Chinese American citizens had been buried outside the region’s official cemetery under an unmarked mound of waste matter —tailings —removed from the local mines.
Hua illuminates this contemptuous disregard with a collage of imagery drawn from recycling promotions and technical blueprints. “The bodies are buried like this from the plans that came about from commodification of land and labor,” she explains. “Lives aren’t measured by their inherent worth but their utilitarian purpose.”
The Window Gallery, where the work is exhibited, is located on the exterior wall of the Museum building and sometimes the view into the glass is obscured by reflected sunlight. Hua folds this problematic aspect of the space into her message. “That’s the whole point, these Chinese American bodies are buried under waste, we can’t see them. Instead, we see ourselves, and the reflection of the exterior world—we see our own lives instead of those hidden bodies. Their identities and existence remain eclipsed by our focus on our own lives.”
Tailings will be on view in the Window Gallery at the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art at UNLV from Aug. 28, 2023 through March 16, 2024, with an opening reception on the evening of September 1 (5 to 8 p.m.).
This exhibition is open to everyone. Entry is free.