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Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art

October 25, 2013 – March 2, 2014


Image for Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art

Carlos Almaraz, Night Magic (Blue Jester), 1988, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Gloria Werner © 1988, Carlos Almaraz Estate

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. It explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.

The exhibition presents works in all media by 72 leading modern and contemporary artists. Of the 92 artworks featured in the exhibition, 63 have been acquired by the museum since 2011, representing its deep and continuing commitment to collecting Latino art. Our America includes works by artists who participated in all the various artistic styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual, and performance art; and classic American genres such as landscape, portraiture, and scenes of everyday life. Latino artists across the United States were galvanized by the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They created new images of their communities and examined bicultural experiences. Many critically probed American history and popular culture, revealing the possibilities and tensions of expansionism, migration, and settlement. Other Latino artists in the exhibition devoted themselves to experimentation, pushing the limits of their chosen medium. “Our America” presents a picture of an evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino.”

Artists featured in the exhibition reflect the rich diversity of Latino communities in the United States. Our America showcases artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States. By presenting works by artists of different generations and regions, the exhibition reveals recurring themes among artists working across the country.

The 72 artists featured in the exhibition are ADÁL, Manuel Acevedo, Elia Alba, Olga Albizu, Carlos Almaraz, Jesse Amado, Asco (Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Herrón and Patssi Valdez), Luis Cruz Azaceta, Myrna Báez, Guillermo Bejarano, Charles “Chaz” Bojórquez, María Brito, Margarita Cabrera, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Melesio “Mel” Casas, Leonard Castellanos, Oscar R. Castillo, José Cervantes, Enrique Chagoya, Roberto Chavez, Carlos A. Cortéz, Marcos Dimas, Ricardo Favela, Christina Fernandez, Teresita Fernández, iliana emilia garcía, Rupert García, Scherezade García, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ignacio Gomez, Ken Gonzales-Day, Hector González, Luis C. “Louie the Foot” González, Muriel Hasbun, Ester Hernandez, Judithe Hernández, Carmen Herrera, Carlos Irizarry, Luis Jiménez, Miguel Luciano, Emanuel Martinez, María Martínez-Cañas, Antonio Martorell, Ana Mendieta, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Franco Mondini-Ruiz, Delilah Montoya, Malaquias Montoya, Abelardo Morell, Jesús Moroles, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Pepón Osorio, Amado M. Peña Jr., Chuck Ramirez, Paul Henry Ramirez, Sophie Rivera, Arturo Rodríguez, Freddy Rodríguez, Joseph Rodríguez, Frank Romero, Emilio Sánchez, Juan Sánchez, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Rafael Soriano, Ruben Trejo, Jesse Treviño, John M. Valadez, Alberto Valdés, and Xavier Viramontes.

The exhibition is organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Connecting Online
The museum created a bilingual mobile website that includes commentaries about artworks in the exhibition and images of all the featured artworks. An audio podcast series features commentaries by curators and artists about artworks in the exhibition. Video shorts with the exhibition curator are available on YouTube. Photographs documenting the installation of the exhibition are on Flickr. The public also may follow the museum for exhibition updates on Twitter by following @americanart and using #ouramerica or by subscribing to the museum’s email list.

Go behind-the-scenes with the museum's blog, Eye Level
The museum’s blog Eye Level features an occasional series highlighting artworks and new acquisitions that will be displayed in the exhibition.
Our America: Radiante, May 28, 2014
Picture This: Our America Travels to The Frost Art Museum, April 10, 2014
Four Questions with the Filmmakers of Rubén Salazar: Man in the Middle,February 25, 2014
Film Screening: Inocente, February 18, 2014
Our America: The Legacy of a King, January 24, 2014
Listen In To Our America Podcasts, January 14, 2014
Latino Art Now! Nuestra América: Expanding Perspectives in American Art, December 19, 2013
Five Questions with Photographer Muriel Hasbun, December 12, 2013
A Closer Look at Our America: Jorge Soto Sánchez, October 29, 2013
Open Today: Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, October 25, 2013
Teresita Fernández: Bamboo Cinema, Blind Landscape, and Stacked Waters , October 21, 2013
Our America: Preparing Pepón Osorio's El Chandelier for Exhibition, September 24, 2013
Preparing for Our America, Close to Home: Muriel Hasbun and Washington D.C.'s Salvadoran Community, September 12, 2013
The Farm Workers’ Altar is Prepared for Exhibition, September 6, 2013
Preparing for Our America: Imagining Migration, iliana emilia garcía's Chairs, August 15, 2013
Preparing for Our America: From Cuba with Love: The Influence of Cuban Posters on Latino Art, July 10, 2013
Preparing for Our America: Portraying Community in a Contested Field, December 13, 2012
Preparing for Our America: John Valadez’s Great American Streets, October 11, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Depicting Exile, September 6, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Raphael Montañez-Ortiz Deconstructs the Western, August 14, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Music and Abstraction, Works by Freddy Rodríguez, July 3, 2012

Free Public Programs
A series of free, public programs will be presented at the museum in conjunction with the exhibition.

Family Day—Sunday, September 15, 2013,; 3–6 p.m. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with an exploration and demonstration of salsa music and dance at Structure of Salsa Music Family Day Artist Talk—Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 7 p.m.; Bamboo Cinema, Blind Landscape, and Stacked Waters by Teresita Fernández. Part of the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art series. Free tickets are required.
Screening—Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 6:30 p.m.; “Peril and Promise” (1980–today) from the PBS documentary Latino Americans, followed by a panel discussion and book signing
Curator Talk—Friday, October 25, 2013, 6 p.m., What Is Latino About American Art? by E. Carmen Ramos

Family Day—Saturday, November 2, 2013, 3–11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Celebrate Día de los Muertos with crafts and educational activities for the whole family at "Day of the Dead" Family Day
Film —Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 6:30 p.m.; Screening of Buena Vista Social Club
Artist Panel—Thursday, November 7, 2013, 6 p.m.; Defining and Defying Latino Art: A Conversation with Five Artists; this discussion is presented as part of the conference Latino Art Now! Nuestra América: Expanding Perspectives in American Art. Free tickets are required.
Film—Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 6:30 p.m.; Screening of Born in East L.A.
Concert—Thursday, November 21, 2013, 5-7 p.m.; Celebrate the sounds of Afro-Latin jazz with the Tony Martucci Quintet as part of the museum’s monthly “Take 5!” jazz concert series
Gallery Talk—Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 6 p.m.; Led by exhibition curator E. Carmen Ramos
Concert—Thursday, December 19, 2013, 5-7 p.m.; Celebrate the sounds of Latin-inspired jazz with the museum’s monthly “Take 5!” jazz concert series, featuring the Wayne Wilentz Quartet playing Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento
Concert—Thursday, January 16, 2014, 5-7 p.m.; Celebrate the sounds of Latin-inspired jazz with the museum’s monthly “Take 5!” jazz concert series featuring the Duende Quartet
Gallery Talk – “Conservation of Our Collection”—Wednesday, January 29, 2014, noon; Members of the museum’s conservation staff discuss conservation treatments on select artworks in the exhibition
Panel Discussion—Thursday, February 6, 2014, 6 p.m.; “Latino Artists on Race, Representation, and African Diasporic Culture”
Concert—Saturday, February 15, 2014, 5-7 p.m.; 21st Century Consort presents Tango Amor
Film—Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 7 p.m.; Screening of Inocente (2012, 40 mins.) followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers
Concert—Thursday, February 20, 2014, 5-7 p.m.; Celebrate the sounds of Latin-inspired jazz with the museum’s monthly “Take 5!” jazz concert series featuring the Chuck Redd Quartet paying a bossa nova tribute to Felix Grant
Film—Thursday, February 27, 2014, 7 p.m.; Screening of Rubén Salazar: Man in the Middle

Latino Art Now! Conference
The Smithsonian is hosting the conference Latino Art Now! November 7–9, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The conference is a biennial forum for artists, historians, scholars, and educators. Registration is required. Information is available online through the Smithsonian Latino Center.

In the News
The Miami Herald, May 30, 2014, ‘Our America’ exhibit at the Frost Museum strikes familiar chords in South Florida
Smithsonian, December 2013, Witnessing the Latino Experience at the American Art Museum by T.A. Frail
NPR, November 25, 2013, What Do We Mean When We Talk About ‘Latino Art’?
The Washington Post, November 4, 2013, Critic vs. artist: What “Latino art” means
NBC Latino, October 30, A Stunning Spotlight on the Latino Presence in American Art by Kristina Puga
The Washington Post, October 25, 2013, review of Our America by Philip Kennicott
Cuban Art News, October 22, 2013, Exhibition Close-Up: Our America at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

National Tour
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is traveling to eight cities across the United States:

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, Florida (April 2, 2014 – June 22, 2014)

Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California (September 21, 2014 – January 11, 2015)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah (February 6, 2015 – June 28, 2015)
Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas (October 16, 2015 – January 17, 2016)
Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Delaware (March 5, 2016 – May 29, 2016)
Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania (June 26, 2016 – October 2, 2016)
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida (October 27, 2016 – January 22, 2017)
Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee (February 17, 2017 – June 4, 2017)

A beautifully illustrated book accompanies the exhibition’s national tour. The catalogue includes essays by Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, independent scholar; and E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The book won a 2014 Award for Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators. Visit the museum’s online shop to order the publication.


Altria Logo

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, the Honorable Aida M. Alvarez, Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment, Henry R. Muñoz III, Wells Fargo, and Zions Bank. Additional significant support was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for Treasures to Go, the Museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia.