Mario Ontiveros is an art critic, curator and assistance professor of modern and contemporary art history in the Department of Art at CSUN. His research centers on issues of solidarity, empowerment, impermanence, and social belonging. His current projects consider the ways artists, curators, cultural practitioners address cross cultural exchange, initiate public debate/dialogue, and facilitate political mobilization in response to the economic pressures and geopolitical transformations of transnationalism in general and the material conditions and sociopolitical factors of daily life in particular. He has written essays about or presented research on Mario Ybarra, Jr., Faith Wilding, Shizu Saldamando, Ana Serrano, Yreina Cervántez, Christina Fernandez, Gran Fury, Group Material, Harry Gamboa Jr., Judith F. Baca, Asco, and Michael Alvarez, among others.
His publications include the exhibition catalogue for his exhibition This is Not a Self-Portrait: Reflections on Erasure, Belonging, and Solidarity (2014/CSUN), which focuses on eight Los Angeles-based artists who reconfigure the genre of self-portraiture. His essay “Imagining Solidarity: Faith Wilding’s Commitment to Action, Engagement, and Organizing” (2014) was published to accompany Faith Wilding’s retrospective at Threewalls gallery in Chicago. “This is not a Monster”(2013), a review published in X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, examines the work of LA-based artist Mario Ybarra, Jr. His essays also appear in two of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's influential exhibition catalogues: Asco: Elite of the Obscure (exhibition catalogue), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2011) and Phantom Sightings: Art After The Chicano Movement (2008).
Since 2012, he has served on the editorial board of X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly. Along with his contributions to the low-residency MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), he has worked for or contributed to projects organized by the Getty Research Institute, UCLA’s World Arts and Culture, the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA, Amherst), the California Arts Council, and the Social and Public Resource Center (SPARC), to name a few.
He received his Ph.D. in Art History from the University of California Los Angeles.
His teaching, research, and professional experiences seek to build productive links between sociopolitical awareness, political engagement, critical theory, artistic practice, and contemporary society. His interdisciplinary courses are useful to students interested in questions around exile, migration, empowerment, belonging, and social justice.
He offers courses on critical art practices since the late 1960s, such as art produced alongside the feminist, black power, Chicana/o, and international student movements, as well as the emergence of HIV/AIDS activism and the cultural activism of artist-centered spaces since the 1980s.
In the Department of Art at CSUN, he teaches graduate seminars on art methodologies, art criticism, art and philosophy, and curatorial studies/exhibition design. His undergraduate art history courses cover the developments in the visual, performing, and literary arts of the 19th – 21st centuries. He also serves on MA/MFA Thesis Committees, holds weekly one-on-one studio critiques, and advises students across the different areas of the Department of Art. Currently he is the Graduate Student Coordinator, a position he began in fall 2014.