October 29, 2022–February 12, 2023

Justin Sterling exhibition ID



A powerful new installation by Justin Sterling (b. 1992, Houston, Texas) immerses visitors in a beautiful space constructed of unconventional materials and provoking contemplation of the role of bad faith in society.

Chapel of the Rocks
is an approximately 1000-square-foot structure, suffused with light refracted through numerous stained-glass windows, which the artist has shattered with rocks and then rebuilt in new ways. The windows, as well as other features such as the fire hydrant “gargoyles” on the chapel’s exterior, were salvaged from the streets of New York City, where Sterling now makes his home, and evoke New York’s “broken windows” policing measures of the 1990s and other policies that he describes as exemplifying the concept of bad faith.

Another inspiration for this work is the Rothko Chapel in Sterling’s native Houston, a multicultural, interfaith spiritual space filled with large paintings by Mark Rothko. In keeping with that inclusive spirit, Chapel of the Rocks will share its gallery space with works from different spiritual traditions represented in the Museum’s permanent collection.


Funding for this exhibition is made possible by a bequest from Dr. Janet Brody Esser, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and the members of The San Diego Museum of Art.


Featured at top right: Justin Sterling inside Chapel of the Rocks, 2022. Photo by Ashley Betkouchar.