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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Art of Migration

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 Migrating across a country’s border requires courage. While this journey inspires hope for an improved future, it also necessitates perseverance. Expressing these themes visually and creatively, the exhibition “Caras Vemos, Corazones no Sabemos: Faces Seen, Hearts Unknown, The Human Landscape of Mexican Migration” documents the fluidity between the Mexican-American border as well as the intermingling of both cultures.

 This impressive exhibit opens April 24 at the Haggerty Museum of Art, with a portion of the work also exhibited at the LatinoArtsCenter. Featuring 100 multimedia artworks from the private collection of Gilberto Cardenas, assistant provost and director of Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the two venues display only a small part of the 1000 pieces that originally premiered at the University of Notre Dame’s SniteMuseum.

 The Cardenas collection showcases Mexican and Chicano artists and divides the experiences of immigration into five thematic categories: the journey, boundaries and barriers, human geographies, negotiating Latino identity and constructing the imaginary. A variety of media, including photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture and video, is used to provide insight into the legacy and impact of Mexican-Americans in the United States.

 Examples include the silkscreen Bicultural Table Setting (1998) depicting Rolando Briseno’s picnic-like convergence of ethnic cuisines. With wood, paper and mixed medias, Esperanza Gama’s Grandfather (1996) displays Latino ancestry with striking imagination and emotion. Another contemporary acrylic, Coming Home (2006) by Ramon Ramirez, is bathed in strokes of sapphire blues and brings to mind the work of David Hockney with a cultural twist.

 An accompanying catalogue examines how the identity of Mexican immigrants, their hopes and dreams of living in American society, changes their perception of their homeland as well as their host country. New York City alone claims a population of Puerto Ricans as large as the city of San Juan, and this exhibit offers an opportunity to contemplate the provocative issue of immigration with imagination and sensitivity.

 Wally Mason, director of the HaggertyMuseum, believes “The subject is so timely; immigration is on everyone’s lips. Artists have humanized this polarized and political topic, but an exhibition flushes these issues with a human face, a visual image.” The Haggerty welcomes curator Amelia Malagamba-Ansotegui to deliver a lecture titled “Immigration through the Eyes of Latino Artists” at 6 p.m. on April 24, followed by a reception.

 The village of Wauwatosa offers another art experience this weekend with the Westside Artwalk on April 25, 5-9 p.m., and April 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. On Saturday Ristorante Bartolotta, located on State Street, hosts a Village Runway Fashion Show from 11a.m.-2 p.m., presenting award-winning and up-and- coming fashion designs that usher in the new season.

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