AMES, Iowa — Guillermo Galindo has spent his career redefining the conventional limits between music, the art of music composition and the intersections between art disciplines, politics, humanitarian issues, spirituality and social awareness.

As part of the Iowa State University College of Design’s 2022-2023 lecture series, Galindo will speak about “Redefining the Boundaries of Music Composition” in a lecture at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 0101 Design.

He will premiere his “Transonic Borders” composition at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 30, in the Beckman Forum and Hansen Exchange (lower-level center and upper-level center spaces of the college’s King Pavilion).

“Transonic Borders” is a new version of “Sonic Borders II” from Galindo’s “Border Cantos” series and his traveling installation, “Sonic Borders,” presented through Art Bridges. That exhibition — a collaboration with photographer Richard Misrach — provides a raw look at the human experience at the U.S.-Mexico border. Misrach has photographed the border since 2004, documenting landscapes and objects, including things discarded by migrants.

Responding to these photographs, Galindo fashioned sound-generating devices from items Misrach collected along the border, such as backpacks, clothing, flashlights and inner tubes. Empty water jugs, for example, have been filled with gravel and can be shaken in various ways to produce different sounds. The sounds these instruments produce give voices to people through the personal belongings they have left behind, and the objects and obstacles they have encountered.

“Galindo’s socially and politically significant practice inhabits many disciplines and different scales of operation simultaneously, which I think is a good model for the kinds of practices we see emerging in our college,” said associate professor Firat Erdim, the Daniel J. Huberty Faculty Fellow in Architecture and a member of the College of Design Lectures and Exhibitions Committee, who is coordinating Galindo’s visit.

“We also deal with territories, objects, spaces, durations and histories, but too often we approach these things from the depersonalized, distanced position of the designer as problem solver. I think Galindo’s practice takes a different position, one that allows him to approach these things from the inside and to give voice to the stories they might tell us,” Erdim said.

About the speaker

Galindo is a senior adjunct professor in the Critical Ethnic Studies Program at the California College of the Arts and has been a resident artist at Vanderbilt University (2018) and visiting artist at Stanford University (2018).

An experimental composer, sonic architect, performance artist and visual media artist, he has been commissioned to write music for the OFUNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Philharmonic Orchestra), the Oakland Symphony Orchestra and Choir and the Kronos Quartet.

His work has been performed and shown at major music festivals, concert halls, museums and art exhibitions throughout the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia, and has been featured by CNN, BBC, CBC, NPR, The New York Times, Reforma (Mexico) and The Nation, among others.

Much of Galindo’s work explores the intersection of art and social consciousness with a focus on the stories of migrants and refugees. After producing “Border Cantos,” he developed “Echo Exodus,” which features sonic devices and graphic scores made from belongings left by African and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees on their journeys to Europe.

Galindo holds a bachelor of arts in film scoring composition from the Berklee College of Music, Boston, and a master of arts in music composition from Mills College, Oakland, California.


Firat Erdim, College of Design Lectures & Exhibitions Committee, firat@iastate.edu

Lauren Johnson, College of Design Strategic Communications, laujohn2@iastate.edu