MUD Frontiers / Zoquetes Fronterizos
Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael

Virginia San Fratello and Ronald Rael reexamine Indigenous mud-based building materials through 21st-century robotics, to contemplate the past and future of Pueblo de Los Ángeles, historical home to the Chumash and Tongva, Spain, Mexico, and now the United States. San Fratello and Rael will create proto-architectures that connect building traditions at opposing ends of a technological spectrum. 

MUD Frontiers, courtesy of Rael San Fratello
MUD Frontiers, courtesy of Rael San Fratello


About the Artist

Rael San Fratello is an Oakland-based design studio grounded in the discipline of architecture as the basis for creative production. Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello established Rael San Fratello in 2002 following the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 to imagine alternative outcomes for architectural practice in a post 9/11 world. A primary focus of their work folds together indigenous and traditional craft and material practice, contemporary design technologies, and storytelling, as strategies to unravel the complexities of contemporary society. Both Rael and San Fratello are of extreme rural backgrounds. Rael was raised in a remote alpine valley on the border of southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico on a multi-generational ranch, and San Fratello in the forests and tobacco farms of the deep South. Humor, play, and hybridity are important aspects of the work of Rael San Fratello, often layered with serious topics that span the themes of immigration, start-up companies, waste, homelessness, fashion, graphic design, and 3D printing. Their practice is closely tied to their commitment to public education in their roles as professors at the University of California Berkeley and San Jose State University.

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