Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art

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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.

Description

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.

Visiting Information

October 24, 2013 – March 22014
Open daily, 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m.
Free Admission

Tour Schedule

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University
Miami, FL
April 2, 2014 June 24, 2014
Crocker Art Museum
Sacramento, CA
September 21, 2014 January 11, 2015
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Salt Lake City, UT
February 6, 2015 June 28, 2015
Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts
Little Rock, AZ
October 16, 2015 January 17, 2016
Delaware Art Museum
Wilmington, DE
March 5, 2016 May 29, 2016
Allentown Art Museum
Allentown, PA
June 26, 2016 October 2, 2016
Museum of Fine Arts
St. Petersburg, FL
October 27, 2016 January 22, 2017
Hunter Museum of American Art
Chattanooga, TN
February 17, 2017 June 4, 2017

Publications

OurAmerica_500.jpg
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture. This beautifully illustrated volume 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. 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. 

Videos

Credit

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.

SAAM Stories

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The civil rights era is resonant in many works featured in Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, which remains on view until March 2, 2014. Several artists in the exhibition came of age during the 1960s and 1970s when the movement thrived and had ripple effects in communities across the United States. Not only did activists and organizers like César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, and Antonia Pantoja build on Dr. King's legacy and demand Latino equal rights in the arenas of labor and education, some Latino artists created works and organizations that challenged traditional racial hierarchies that undergirded American society.
SAAM Staff
Blog Editor
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05/28/2014
With the exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art on the road, I found myself missing an old favorite from the exhibit and permanent collection, Radiante, by Olga Albizu.
A photograph of Howard Kaplan on a plane.
Howard Kaplan
Writer
Splash Image - Listen In To Our America Podcasts
Technology01/14/2014
There are just a few weeks left to see the exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition features work by 72 leading modern and contemporary artists, several of whom can be heard in our audio podcast series along with scholars from across the Smithsonian.
Georgina
Splash Image - Latino Art Now! Nuestra América: Expanding Perspectives in American Art

Curatorial assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson recaps Latino Art Now!

SAAM Staff
Blog Editor
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Michelle Sullivan is a second-year graduate fellow in Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation and spent this summer at the Lunder Conservation Center. She recently treated this untitled work by Jorge Soto Sánchez for the exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, which will open on October 25, 2013.
Chris
Splash Image - Open Today: Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
In a video podcast, curator E. Carmen Ramos explains that the mid-twentieth century was an important period in Latino art. At this time, Latino artists were attending art schools in this country and were beginning to contest their marginalized position within American society.
Georgina
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Dawn Planas, a graduate conservation student at Buffalo State College, and an intern in the Lunder Conservation Center's objects lab, recently assisted with a treatment of Pepón Osorio's El Chandelier. Planas gives us some insight into how she prepared the chandelier for the exhibition.
Dawn Planas
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Artist and educator Muriel Hasbun is a member of the largest Latino community in the greater D.C. region. Hasbun grew up in El Salvador and settled here as a student in the 1980s. She is now department chair and associate professor of photography at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Hasbun's personal history and artistic development speaks to a larger Salvadoran experience of migration and endurance in the midst of adversity.
A photograph of Carmen Ramos by Ross Whitaker
E. Carmen Ramos
Former Curator of Latinx Art
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson
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How does it feel to leave your homeland and settle in a new country? In this blog post, curatorial assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson explores how one immigrant artist, iliana emilia garcía imagines her ongoing ties to her native county of birth.
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson
07/10/2013
n this blog post Curatorial Assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson explores the rich links between Latino art and the Cuban poster movement, which captivated artists in the United States and abroad in the 1960s and 1970s. The works discussed below will be featured in the upcoming exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, opening October 25, 2013, along with other works that attest to the importance of graphics and international artistic models for Latino artists.
Georgina
Blog Image 165 - Preparing for Our America: Portraying Community in a Contested Field
Curator E. Carmen Ramos and curatorial assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson discuss Sophie Rivera's untitled photographic portraits that will be included in our upcoming exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, opening October 25, 2013.
Georgina
A photograph of Carmen Ramos by Ross Whitaker
E. Carmen Ramos
Former Curator of Latinx Art
Media - 1994.95 - SAAM-1994.95_1 - 12471
In this blog post Curatorial Assistant Florencia Bazzano-Nelson comments on John Valadez's Two Vendors, an intense and large-scale pastel that will be featured in the upcoming 2013 exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Like other works in the exhibition, this work demonstrates the masterful ways in which Latino artists—many born and/or raised in large cities in California, New York and beyond—have drawn inspiration from America's urban streets.
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson
Media - 2012.31.1 - SAAM-2012.31.1_1 - 81906
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson recently joined the Smithsonian American Art Museum. A scholar of Latin American and Latino art, Bazzano-Nelson is assisting in the preparation of the upcoming exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, opening October 25, 2013. In this blog post Bazzano-Nelson considers the paintings of Rafael Soriano, who like other Cuban American artists, actively explored the theme of exile.
Florencia Bazzano-Nelson
Media - 2011.31 - SAAM-2011.31_3 - 81894
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, artists from around the world began making art by reworking existing films and using other moving image technologies like video. One pioneer of this new art form is Raphael Montañez-Ortiz. Born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, Montañez-Ortiz attended Pratt Institute in the 1960s. During this time he also studied Native American cultures, in part motivated by a desire to explore his own indigenous heritage.
Georgina
Blog Image 104 - Preparing for Our America: Music and Abstraction, Works by Freddy Rodríguez
The exhibition Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art will open next fall on October 25, 2013. This may seem like a long time away, but E. Carmen Ramos, the museum's curator for Latino art, is already hard at work preparing for this exhibition, visiting artists and acquiring new artworks for the American Art Museum's collection.
Georgina
Media - 1986.65.113 - SAAM-1986.65.113_1 - 9724
E. Carmen Ramos became the Smithsonian American Art Museum's curator of Latino art last fall. Now that she's had a chance to get settled, we caught up with her to ask about her interests and the rich holdings of Latino art in the museum's permanent collection.
A photograph of Howard Kaplan on a plane.
Howard Kaplan
Writer
A photograph of Carmen Ramos by Ross Whitaker
E. Carmen Ramos
Former Curator of Latinx Art

Podcast

Listen to “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art” on Apple Podcasts.

Online Gallery

Artists

Manuel Acevedo
born Newark, NJ 1964
ADÁL
born Utuado, Puerto Rico 1948-died San Juan, Puerto Rico 2020
Elia Alba
born New York City 1962
Olga Albizu
born Ponce, Puerto Rico 1924-died New York, NY 2005
Carlos Almaraz
born Mexico City, Mexico 1941-died Los Angeles, CA 1989

Born in Mexico City, Carlos Amaraz soon moved with his family to the United States, settling eventually in East Los Angeles. Almaraz was aware from an early age of a "bifurcation" in his surroundings.

Jesse Amado
born San Antonio, TX 1951
Luis Cruz Azaceta
born Marianao, Province of Havana, Cuba 1942
Myrna Báez
born Santurce, Puerto Rico 1931-died San Juan, Puerto Rico 2018
Guillermo Bejarano
born San Diego, CA 1946
Charles Chaz” Bojórquez
born Los Angeles, CA 1949

Painter, born in 1949 in Los Angeles, California. Bojórquez draws his inspiration from his birthplace, where he grew up and still makes his home.

María Brito
born Havana, Cuba 1947

Painter and installation artist, born in 1948 in Havana, Cuba. Brito came to the United States in 1960. She holds B.E. and M.F.A. degrees from the University of Miami and B.F.A. and M.S. degrees from Florida International University in Miami.

Margarita Cabrera
born Monterrey, Mexico 1973
María Magdalena Campos-Pons
born La Vega, Province of Matanzas, Cuba 1959
Melesio Casas
born El Paso, TX 1929-died San Antonio, TX 2014
Leonard Castellanos
born Los Angeles, CA 1943
Oscar R. Castillo
born El Paso, TX 1945
A man with a white beard standing in front of a framed one dollar bill
Enrique Chagoya
born Mexico City, Mexico 1953

Enrique Chagoya juxtaposes secular, popular, and religious symbols from ancient to contemporary sources to address the post-colonial clash between Western and non-Western cultures.

Roberto Chavez
born Los Angeles, CA 1932
Carlos A. Cortéz
born Milwaukee, WI 1923-died Chicago, IL 2005

Graphic artist, born in 1923 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cortéz currently lives in Chicago, where he has been active with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) since the end of World War II.

Marcos Dimas
born Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico 1943
Ricardo Favela
born Kingsburg, CA 1944-died Visalia, CA 2007
Christina Fernandez
born Los Angeles, CA 1965
Teresita Fernández
born Miami, FL 1968
Harry Gamboa, Jr.
born Los Angeles, CA 1951
iliana emilia garcía
born Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 1970
Rupert García
born French Camp, CA 1941

Rupert García came from a family active in the creation and instruction of folk arts and traditions. After completing his service in the U.S. Air Force in Indochina, García attended the San Francisco School for the Arts on the G.I. Bill.

Scherezade García
born Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 1966
Ignacio Gomez
born Los Angeles, CA 1941
Ken Gonzales-Day
born Santa Clara, CA 1964
Héctor D. González
born Chapala, Mexico 1945
Luis C. González
born Mexico City, Mexico 1953
Gronk
born Los Angeles, CA 1954

Gronk (Glugio Gronk Nicandro) is a Los Angeles-based performance artist and painter. He uses thick layers of intensely colored acrylic paint to create expansive, expressionistic images.

Muriel Hasbun
born San Salvador, El Salvador 1961
Ester Hernandez
born Dinuba, CA 1944
Judithe Hernández
born Los Angeles, CA 1948
Carmen Herrera
born Havana, Cuba 1915-died New York City 2022
Willie F. Herrón III
born Los Angeles, CA 1951
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Luis Jiménez
born El Paso, TX 1940-died Hondo, NM 2006

Born in Texas, lives in New Mexico. Sculptor, teacher whose large fiberglass figures capture the color and vigor of Hispanic-American women and men.

Carmen Lomas Garza
born Kingsville, TX 1948

Painter and printmaker. While attending Texas Arts and Industry University (Texas A&I) in Kingsville, Lomas Garza joined the Chicano movement. In addition to earning a B.S.

María Martínez-Cañas
born Havana, Cuba 1960

When María Martínez-Cañas was three months old, her family emigrated from Cuba to Puerto Rico in the wake of Castro's political revolution.

Emanuel Martinez
born Denver, CO 1947

Painter and sculptor, born in 1947 in Denver, Colorado. Martínez attended Metropolitan State College and Juarez Lincoln University in Denver.

Antonio Martorell
Born Santurce, Puerto Rico 1939
Ana Mendieta
born Havana, Cuba 1948-died New York City 1985

Sculptor, performance and conceptual artist, born in Havana, Cuba. Mendieta came to the United States in 1961 and spent her adolescence in Iowa. The trauma of dislocation from her family and homeland is a recurrent theme in her work.

Amalia Mesa-Bains
born Santa Clara, CA 1943
Franco Mondini-Ruiz
born San Antonio, TX 1961
Delilah Montoya
born Fort Worth, TX 1955

Delilah Montoya graduated from Metropolitan Technical College in Omaha in 1978 and went on to study photography at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where she received her BA in 1984, her MA in 1990, and her MFA in 1994.

Malaquias Montoya
born Albuquerque, NM 1938
Abelardo Morell
born Havana, Cuba 1948

Abelardo Morell was born in Havana. As a child he felt a sense of alienation and isolation in Cuba, feelings that remained when he moved as a teenager with his family to New York City.

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Jesús Moroles
born Corpus Christi, TX 1950-died Jarrell, TX 2015

Born in 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Moroles grew up in Dallas and graduated with a B.F.A. from North Texas State University in 1978.

Raphael Montañez Ortiz
born New York City 1934
Pepón Osorio
born Santurce, Puerto Rico 1955

Sculptor and installation artist, born in 1955 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1975, Osorio moved to the South Bronx in New York City, where he enrolled at Lehman College and earned a degree in sociology.

Amado M. Peña, Jr.
born Laredo, TX 1943
Chuck Ramirez
born San Antonio, TX 1962-died San Antonio, TX 2010
Paul Henry Ramirez
born El Paso, TX 1963
Sophie Rivera
born New York City 1938-died New York City 2021
Arturo Rodríguez
born Ranchuelo, Cuba 1956
Freddy Rodríguez
born Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic 1945
Joseph Rodríguez
born New York City 1951

Photographer who captures people in the context of their culture and locale.

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Frank Romero
born East Los Angeles, CA 1941

Frank Romero grew up in the culturally mixed, middle-class Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights and was well into his career by the time he developed a consciousness of being a Latino artist.

Emilio Sánchez
born Camagüey, Cuba 1921-died Warwick, NY 1999
Juan Sánchez
born New York City 1954
Rafael Soriano
born Cidra, Province of Matanzas, Cuba 1920-died Miami, FL 2015
Jorge Soto Sánchez
born New York, NY 1947-died White River Junction, VT 1987
Ruben Trejo
born St. Paul, MN 1937-died Spokane, WA 2009

Ruben Trejo was born in a boxcar in the Burlington Railroad Yard in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His father worked for the railroad and his mother and siblings worked the fields as migrant laborers.

Jesse Treviño
born Monterrey, Mexico 1946

Treviño's family moved from Mexico to San Antonio, Texas, in 1948. Treviño earned an A.A. from San Antonio Junior College, a B.A. in art from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, and an M.F.A.

John M. Valadez
born Los Angeles, CA 1951

Muralist and pastel artist, grew up in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.

Alberto Valdés
born El Paso, TX 1918-died Los Angeles, CA 1998
Patssi Valdez
born Los Angeles, CA 1951

As an artist growing up in East Los Angeles, Valdez was the only Chicana in the conceptual performance group Asco (Spanish for nausea).

Xavier Viramontes
born Richmond, CA 1943

Printmaker, born in 1943 in Richmond, California. Viramontes received a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute and an M.A. from San Francisco State University.