Smithsonian Center for Lation Initiatives
The Interpretation and Representation of Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Conference Documentation
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Avila, Mary Theresa

Challenging Traditional Curatorial Practices

Historicizing Narratives

Borders and Diasporas

Aesthetics Beauty

The Body: The Real and the Symbolic

All Abstracts



Conceptions and Representations of Latinos by Public Institutions in the United States

The focus of this paper is the North American public institutions' conceptions and representations of Latinos. An Analysis of various agencies that affect North American interest in Latin American art introduces issues that impact exhibitions of Latino art. A presentation of the history of the United States' foreign policy establishes incentives behind their support of Latin American art exhibitions in the U.S. The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition and collection practices serve to illustrate the historical disparagement of Latin Americans and Latinos by U.S. public art institutions. An examination of the factors behind the upsurge of interest in Latin American and Latino art in the 1980s reveals the system that manipulates the standards that are applied to the arts. An evaluation of the Road to Aztlan exhibition serves to emphasize the point that institutions curatorial practices continue to create inaccurate conceptions and misrepresent the Latino experience. An evaluation of U.S. art institution's administrative, curatorial, and exhibition design practices concludes my discussion.

This paper asserts that public art institutions have and continue to serve as components of the communications apparatus of the political, military, and corporate powers' in the United States.

This paper reflects the history of U.S. public institutions practices in regards to Latin Americans and Latinos. It also attempts to challenge statements about the improvement in the treatment, conceptions, and conditions of Latinos in the United States today. How to dismantle the current model and how to integrate more culturally responsive and community building exhibitions is addressed, but by no means resolved. Through this paper I work towards the rethinking of the representation of Latino culture in the U.S.

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