Cat in the Stax: Appreciating Hispanic Visual Artists
By Ethan Shea
To keep with recent “Cat in the Stax” themes of exploring different forms of art, and to honor the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to call attention to a few visual artists of Latin-American descent.
Gaining access to these artists’ works was made easy with the help of Falvey’s Art History subject guide and a database called Artstor. Here, I was able to find plenty of images of paintings and sculptures by several artists. Scrolling through this database was like walking through a museum without ever leaving my desk, so if you enjoy visual art, I recommend you check it out! There are also plenty of art books located in our stacks that are a pleasure to thumb through.
Research aside, here are a few artists definitely worth knowing!
Graciela Iturbide has been featured in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as The J. Paul Getty Museum for her photography that focuses on the daily lives of indigenous people in Mexico. She is lauded for her ability to vividly document the lives of those she photographs in a manner that is not exploitative. Iturbide was born in Mexico City and introduced to photography as a child through her father, who would take pictures of Iturbide and her family members. Other points of inspiration for Iturbide are women’s rights and migration.
Born in 1958, Doris Salcedo is a sculptor of Colombian descent who uses common household items to represent trauma and loss. Salcedo has witnessed family members go missing in her home nation of Colombia due to political turmoil, and she uses these personal, trumatic experiences to represent the feeling of emptiness loss brings. Salcedo has had her art featured in the Guggenheim Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the University Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico among several others. Earlier this year, Salcedo’s installation, Fragmentos, made headlines when the Colombian Ministry of Culture was accused of exploiting the piece for their own purposes, breaking from the anti-war messages carried by the piece.
Based in New York City, Yunuen Cho is an Asian-American and Latina artist of Mexican descent, specifically of the Tarahumara people. Her piece featured here, Cow Community, is a painting inspired by Labor Day. There are many food-related elements in the piece that pay homage to the Mexican working class. Cho has several family members who are essential workers in the food industry, and this painting brings light to the fact that essential workers like them do not have the privilege of enjoying a day off like others. There are also references to specific historical events in the piece. The mushroom holding a flag with text that translates to “Land and Liberty” represents Emiliano Zapata, a leader of the Zapatista movement, a cause that fought against the Mexican government in the early 20th century in the name of agrarian rights. Cho was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, so many of her other pieces, such as Food City, are inspired by the experience of living in the American Southwest. You can find more of Yunuen Cho’s art here.
Ethan Shea is a first-year English Graduate Student at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Memorial Library.
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