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Our America:

The Latino Presence in American Art

October 16, 2015 - January 17, 2016

"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.

Luis Jiménez, Man on Fire, 1969, fiberglass in acrylic urethane on painted wood fiberboard base, 106 1/4 x 80 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Philip Morris Incorporated, © 1969, Luis Jiménez

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, is an exhibition of modern and contemporary Latino art from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-20th 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.

Our America presents works in all media by 72 leading modern and contemporary artists. The exhibition 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. The civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s galvanized Latino artists across the United States. 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 means it to be “American” and “Latino.”

“The relationship between Latino art and the larger world of American art in the post-War period is not simple or clear cut,” said E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Some artists, influenced by the activism of Latino civil rights movements, turned away from pure formalist discourse to tackle the pressing issues of the day. Others artists wholeheartedly embraced abstraction. An even larger group inhabited multiple worlds, infusing avant-garde modes with politically and culturally engaged themes.”


 
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.

Featured Works from the Exhibition


Amalia Mesa-Bains, An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio, 1984, revised 1991, mixed media installation including plywood, mirrors, fabric, framed photographs, found objects, dried flowers and glitter, 96 x 72 x 48 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, © 1991, Amalia Mesa-Bains

Xavier Viramontes, Boycott Grapes, Support the United Farm Workers Union, 1973, offset lithograph on paper, 13 5/8 x 17 1/2 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, © 1973, Xavier Viramontes

Joseph Rodríguez, Carlos, from the series Spanish Harlem, 1987, chromogenic print, 12 x 18 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, © 1987, Joseph Rodríguez

Ken Gonzales-Day, “At daylight the miserable man was carried to an oak...” from the series Searching for California Hang Trees, 2007, inkjet print, 33 x 45 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, © 2007, Ken Gonzales-Day

María Brito, El Patio de Mi Casa, 1990, mixed media, including acrylic paint, wood, wax, latex, gelatin silver prints and found objects, 95 1/2 x 68 1/4 x 65 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, © 1991, María Brito

Judithe Hernández, Reina de la Primavera, from Méchicano 1977 Calendario, 1976, screenprint on paper, 22 x 28 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, © 1976, Judithe Hernández

Roberto Chavez, El Tamalito del Hoyo, 1959, oil on masonite, 40 x 25 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, © 1959, Roberto Chavez

Emilio Sánchez, Untitled, Bronx Storefront, “La Rumba Supermarket,” late 1980s, watercolor on paper, 40 x 59 1/2 inches, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Emilio Sánchez Foundation, © Emilio Sánchez Foundation

 

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The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston

 

Consulate of Mexico in Little Rock

 

Alan DuBois Contemporary Craft Fund

 

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