An exhibition that pays homage to the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States opens Friday, Feb. 17, at the Hunter Museum of American Art.
"Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art" focuses on art since the mid-20th century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. On view through Sunday, June 4, the exhibition represents a major collection of modern and contemporary Latino art drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
"Our America" presents works in all media by nearly 70 leading modern and contemporary artists of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States.
The exhibition is organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He will visit Chattanooga in late April to discuss some of the themes of the exhibition.
"Our America" is designed to show how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture.
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.
According to curators, Latino artists across the United States were galvanized by the civil-rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. 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 this evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by "American" and "Latino."
Special programming, from artist and curator talks to dance and music, is scheduled during the run of the exhibition.
› What: “Our America: The Latino Presence in History and Literature.”
› When: Friday, Feb. 17-Sunday, June 4.
› Where: Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View.
› Admission: $15 ages 18 and older.
› Phone: 423-267-0968.
› Website: www.huntermuseum.org.
› Thursday, March 2: “Our America: The Latino Presence in History and Literature,” 6-7 p.m. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga history professor Ryan Edwards and literature professor Nicholas Mansito will give a walking discussion of the themes behind some of the images in the exhibit.
› Sunday, March 5: Teen tours of “Our America,” 2 p.m.
› Thursday, March 23: “Our America: Drawing and Dialogue,” 6-7:30 p.m. Artist Alex Loza and Hunter curators discuss several works of art, then Loza does a live drawing demo inspired by the works discussed.
› Sunday, March 26: “Coming to America: The Story of Journeys North to the United States,” 1-4 p.m. A collective of Chattanooga’s Latin American refuge and immigrant communities will share their stories.
› Sunday, April 2: Día de Diversión Familiar/Family Fun Day, 2-4 p.m. Explore the gallery, dance to authentic music, sing with the East Lake Expression engine, explore with STEM school teens, hear stories and make memories with creative projects.
› Thursday, April 13: Art + Issues: Coming to America, 6-7 p.m. Sasha Hasanbegovic, a founder of “Coming to America: The Story of Us” will use an artwork from the exhibition to lead a dialogue on ways to grow as a welcoming community.
› Sunday, April 23: Hunter Undergraduate Student Symposium: Border Crossings, 1-3 p.m. This symposium series features papers from regional universities on the topic of “Border Crossings.” Respondent is Dr. Elissa Weichbrodt, assistant professor of art at Covenant College.
› Thursday, April 27: Art Wise: Distinguished Speakers at the Hunter presents E. Carmen Ramos, 6-7:30 p.m. The curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (also the curator of “Our America”) speaks about the creation of the exhibition and the many artists included in it. The program features live Spanish translation.
› Thursday, May 4: Bachata on the Bluff, 5-8 p.m. On this Throwback Thursday, guests can view the permanent collection free of charge and the temporary exhibit “Our America” for $5 (free to children). The “Our America” ticket also grants access to a battle of the bands showcasing Latino music, the kickoff to the Bands on the Bluff series.
› Saturday, May 6: Artful Yoga: Yoga Artistico, 1:30-3 p.m. This bilingual session will be led jointly by Jessica Ashah and Jessica Jollie of Yoga Landing. Participants will explore a work of art in “Our America,” then use that art as inspiration for a yoga practice presented in Spanish and English.
› Sunday, May 7: Teen tours of “Our America,” 2 p.m.
› Thursday, May 11: Art Wise: Distinguished Speakers at the Hunter presents Maria Brito, 6-7:30 p.m. The Cuban-American artist, who came to the United States through Operation Peter Pan, talks about her work in “Our America” and how she blends her childhood memories with personal, cultural, art historical and domestic images to create her installations. The program features live Spanish translation.
› Thursday, May 25: Sangria on the Bluff, 6:30-10:30 p.m. The Hunter partners with La Paz for an evening celebrating “Our America” with music, food, dancing and gallery tours. Tickets may be purchased at www.lapazchattanooga.org.