September 12, 2022

The San Diego Museum of Art to Open Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland

Photo and Video Artist Lisa Ross Encourages Exploration of the Uyghur People’s Spirituality, Culture and Homeland

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Museum of Art presents Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland, a new exhibition by New York photo and video artist Lisa Ross. Thoughtfully composed, poetic and reverential in their approach, the photographs of Uyghur shrines capture the rituals and spiritual traditions associated with the desert monuments, as well as the beauty of everyday life in and around the Taklamakan Desert of the Uyghur Region, officially called Xinjiang (or “New Territory”) by the People’s Republic of China. Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland will be on view from November 5, 2022 through March 5, 2023.

Lisa Ross first visited the Taklamakan Desert in 2002. Over a decade, Ross journeyed and returned to more than 50 holy sites nestled among sand dunes or edges of remote oasis villages. Composed of hand-carved wooden branches and colorful flags made of silk and other fabrics, these open-air monuments made by Uyghur pilgrims mark the resting places of revered Muslim saints and their descendants. The shrines take many forms and vary according to the landscape and environment. Lisa Ross’s photographs also explore other relationships in the landscape, including a series of images of outdoor beds occupied by women and children situated in open fields, on rooftops, or on the edges of villages.

Following the period of the artist’s work in the region, historically unstable relations between the Chinese government and Uyghur people continued to worsen, resulting in what the U.S. government now recognizes as genocide. Ross’s luminous photographs, first conceived as an homage to living shrines, have now become a moving visual elegy to the Uyghur homeland and reflects the artist’s commitment to raising awareness about the atrocities against humanity currently ongoing in Xinjiang.

Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland will enlighten visitors on the beauty and perseverance of an increasingly endangered people and culture,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director and CEO at The San Diego Museum of Art. “This opportunity to showcase Ross’s work at the Museum emphasizes the importance of sharing empathy through art.”

In addition to the photographs, two films by Ross will be presented within the exhibition. Entitled To Mark a Prayer and RISE, the films provide a glimpse into the way these sacred and beloved spaces function in the Uyghur homeland.

Ross has worked in China, Azerbaijan, Europe, and North Africa, and has been exhibited worldwide. More information on the artist is available here.

Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland is organized by Ladan Akbarnia, Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art at The San Diego Museum of Art. The exhibition will be on view in gallery 12N and the Museum’s free galleries 14 and 15, adjacent to Panama 66 restaurant.

For more information on The San Diego Museum of Art or to purchase tickets, visit

About The San Diego Museum of Art

Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses some of the world’s finest art. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s internationally renowned collection of more than 20,000 works–dating from 3000 BC to present day–includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings including the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings, East Asian art, American art, and Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. It hosts engaging experiences that invite visitors to explore art through music, dance, film, food, and so much more. The Museum also offers Virtual SDMA, a variety of online experiences, including the SDMA app, Masterpiece Minute podcast, virtual performances in collaboration with other local arts institutions and more. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif., 92101. General Information, (619) 232-7931, Group Sales: (619) 696-1935, Website: Twitter: @SDMA, Instagram: @SanDiegoMuseumofArt Facebook: