In a series of striking black-and-white portraits by photographer Alejandro Rivera, you can map some feature of every face to a different part of the world. His camera's close-up examination has a simple mission: to help illuminate the vast diversity of people that live within the labels Latino and Hispanic. That exploration of diversity is central to the two curators who put together the Latino Arts/OHIO 2008 exhibit, which opened this week at the Concourse Gallery in the Upper Arlington Municipal Building.
In a series of striking black-and-white portraits by photographer Alejandro Rivera, you can map some feature of every face to a different part of the world. His camera's close-up examination has a simple mission: to help illuminate the vast diversity of people that live within the labels Latino and Hispanic.
That exploration of diversity is central to the two curators who put together the Latino Arts/OHIO 2008 exhibit, which opened this week at the Concourse Gallery in the Upper Arlington Municipal Building.
Egle Gatins and Elena Osterwalder assembled a similar show in the same space 17 years ago. These many years later, the local Hispanic population has grown significantly and the number of Latino artists in Ohio has blossomed. But the range of work - the materials, the aesthetics, the political points of view - has remained limitless.
"I think people think that artwork by Latinos is going to look alike, or be alike, and it isn't," Gatins said.
And truly, the painting and sculptural styles within the show couldn't be more different.
Elsie Sanchez's oil paintings are so intricately detailed and textured, it's easy to mistake them for hand-woven fabrics. Wilfredo Calvo-Bono has both a patriotic homage to 9/11 firemen (which has been placed right across the hall from the fire station in the building) and a series of geometric "Possibilities" paintings that evoke Piet Mondrian in jewel tones.
A series of the skeletal "La Catrina" dolls, made by Ana Luisa Sanchez from Puebla, Mexico, represent different facets of women. "[Sanchez] tells me that the Catrinas in Puebla are laughing their hearts out - they never dreamed that they would make it all the way to Upper Arlington," Gatins said.
Micaela de Vivero, an artist originally from Ecuador who now teaches at Denison University, has two boundary-pushing sculptural installations, including a series of small, suspended heads with an elegant, skin-like translucence. They are made from pig intestine, and inspired by the shrunken heads of the Amazon River basin.
"When you come from Ecuador, it can be surprising how many people think you don't have clothes or that you live in the jungle," de Vivero said. "This is a way of approaching those stereotypes."
What: "Latino Arts/OHIO 2008"
When: Through Sept.19
Where: Concourse Gallery, Upper Arlington
Her other installation, "This is not a tree," explores the misconceptions that come from friends and family still living in Central America, who can't imagine life with seasons, or trees without leaves. In it she takes found, fallen branches and wraps them cocoon-like in the same ethereal skin, playing with the beauty of barren branches.
Another project of de Vivero's is her "Tourist Series," for which she made T-shirts with hand-embroidered phrases on them that play with cultural perceptions, and then took pictures of herself wearing them in various locations around the world.
One, in which she wears the words "a friendly alien," is taken in front of the Kunsthaus in Gratz, Austria, which locals call by the same name because of its amorphous architecture. The next phase of this project will include a live element at the show's official opening on Sept. 7.
There will be additional dimensions to the show at its opening, including music that was composed in response to the exhibit performed by El Calido Viento Quartet, as well as poems by four writers that were inspired by the artwork.
About half the artists with work included in the show are from Central Ohio, the other half from the Cleveland area. Opportunities to learn more from the artists themselves in an educational setting will take place later in the month.