the Museum: Contemporary Latino Art in Context
In museum practice, there was a tendency,
particularly during the 1990s, to do ethnic exhibitions of
the work of artists considered “outside the mainstream.”
Some exhibitions focused on one particular group, others mixed
artists from several countries under the rhetoric of multiculturalism.
This became increasingly problematic when discussions arose
surrounding the terms “Latino” and “Latin American” and the
relationship between the two.
This paper will explore the themes
and the work of artists in two exhibitions I am currently
organizing at the Jersey City Museum: Superfly (2003)
and Tropialismos/Tropicalisms (2006). The concept
for the Superfly exhibition came from the influence
of urban culture in Jersey City and New York City. The confluence
of urban style, urban music, the mass media, and contemporary
art makes for a powerful system of signs in which identity
plays an important role.
exhibition will include several Latino artists and artists
from other groups with work that explores the long and problematic
history of the construction of the tropical landscape as a
It is my belief that to separate
the work of Latino artists for exhibition, however tempting,
is less useful than exploring the work within its larger context
of contemporary art. The new generation of Latino artists
working today are interested in exploring many different subjects
with a variety of new media, in ways similar to their African
American, Asian American, Native American, and Anglo American
counterparts. It is with this in mind that I seek to explore
powerful ways in which to contextualize their work as innately
Latino, contemporary, and American.
Copyright © 2003