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Shadows for Carlos Villa

Objective: Learn about Carlos Villa’s life while watching a multimedia performance.

In February 2020, the Asian Art Museum held a Leadership Donor Celebration of its new pavilion expansion. Part of the celebration included a performance by ShadowLight Productions and Bindlestiff Studio called Shadows for Carlos Villa. Watch the performance and learn more about the life and work of Carlos Villa.

Common Core Content Standards (California)

Writing Standards (Grade 9-12)

W.9-12.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


W.9-12.1.a: Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or of opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.


W.9-12.1.c: Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.


W.9-12.1.d: Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.


Content Standards (California)


Media Arts

RE 7.6.a: Identify, describe, and analyze how message and meaning are created by components in media artworks.


RE 8.1.a: Identify components and messages in media artworks.


RE 8.2.a: Identify and describe the components and messages in media artworks.


RE 8.3.a: Identify and describe how messages are created by components in media artworks.


RE 8.4.a: Identify, describe, and explain how messages are created by components in media artworks.


RE 9.1: Identify the effective components and possible changes to media artworks, considering viewers.


RE 9.2: Discuss the effectiveness of components and possible improvements for media artworks, considering their context.


Video: Shadows for Carlos Villa


  1. Read the description of the video.
  2. Watch Shadows for Carlos Villa without taking notes or being hampered by outside distractions.
  3. Watch Shadows for Carlos Villa for a second time while taking notes.
  4. Write an analytical paper that addresses elements of the performance: movements of the body; costumes; ue of  lighting; visual art; music and lyrics (presence and absence); spoken word; ambient noise; relationship between performers/characters. In your discussion, be sure to answer the following questions:
    • What is your reaction to this performance?
    • What main themes emerge from the performance?
    • What did you learn about Carlos Villa? What were his motivations for creating his artwork? How did his identities shape his artwork?
    • What were the strengths of the performance? In what ways did the multiple elements strengthen its message?
    • If the performance was reduced to one element (i.e., a conventionally choreographed dance or play), how would it yield different insights to Villa’s life?
    • If possible, how can the performance strengthen its message?
    • What do you want to learn more about Carlos Villa or any other aspect of the performance?

For more lessons based on Carlos Villa, visit the artist’s teacher packet.