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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dual Expressions

Art Review

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The journey from Latin America to the United States, literally and metaphorically, echoes the journey of creating an expression of art. Both require an individual to cross barriers with courage and faith, allowing history, heritage, hopes, dreams and experiences to transform into physical realities. These dual expressions resonate through multiple mediums in the exhibition “Caras Vemos, Corazones No Sabemos: Faces Seen, Hearts Unknown: The Human Landscape of Migration.”

The exhibit is divided into two venues, one at the Haggerty Museum of Art and the other at the UnitedCommunity Center (hosted by Latino Arts Inc.). Both places present unfamiliar artists, primarily American-born but of Latino descent, whose poignant images expose the soul of Latin and Mexican Americans.

The individual works, which include lithographs, silk-screens, acrylic paintings, photographs, monoprints and mixed-media presentations, display obvious expertise. But the far greater value stems from the artists’ insights into the difficulty of transitioning into another culture. Given the political prominence of immigration in America today, the voices represented throughout this exhibit compel discussion.

In The Immigrant’s Dream: The American Response (2003), Malaquias Montoya (b. 1938) depicts a figure wrapped in an American flag and barbed wire. Montoya’s large-scale acrylic painting, along with numerous silk-screens in the exhibit, communicates a colorful, satirical dialogue surrounding the controversy of immigration.

The photographs of Alan Pogue (b. 1946), exhibited at both the Haggerty and the UCC, reveal the emotional pain of leaving one’s home and acclimating to a foreign land. A gelatin silver print, Bracero: Antonio Gonzalez with 1965 Identification Card, El Paso (2005), details the stark and startling facts of being an immigrant.

The Haggerty exhibit includes videos and DVD presentations; the UnitedCommunity Center features installations and several large-scale visuals, including Exodus Graphicus (2004). Exodus, a four-piece linocut montage from Mexico and Puerto Rico, conjures ominous visions of the migrant’s journey through the use of black-and-white surrealistic symbols and figures.

The Latino and Mexican-American artists involved in “Caras Vemos,” whose unique faces remain hidden, allow their hearts and stories to express the often-uncomfortable convergence of different cultures. (The exhibit continues at both venues through July 13.)