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Indepth Arts News:

"Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum"
2002-11-02 until 2003-01-26
Oakland Museum of California
Oakland, CA, USA

Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum highlights more than 200 years of Latino art from across the United States. This exhibition of 64 paintings, sculptures and photographs represents many cultural traditions, illustrating the wide range of expression developed by artists of Latin heritage who have settled in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"These artists present human stories that are at once culturally specific, but also universal," said Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Many of the artists in Arte Latino explore issues of personal identity through cultural heritage. They include both U.S.-born and immigrant artists, among them Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans and Chicanos, Cuban Americans and other Latin Americans who have created art throughout the United States. The current exhibition is a sampling of these rich traditions, selected from almost 500 Latino artworks in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection.

The earliest works on view are from Puerto Rico, which became a territory of the United States in 1898. Others reflect the heritage of the Hispanic Southwest, from 18th-century religious carvings to recent works that reinterpret traditional images using the language of today. Several contemporary artists have combined American popular culture with their Latino experience to stimulate dialogue and encourage activism. The Chicano Movement of the 1960s, in particular, inspired artists to address social and political issues. Many Cuban American artists and those who moved from Central and South America express a divided identity, reflecting their feelings about leaving family and their past behind them.

Patssi Valdez,
The Magic Room, 1994,
Acrylic,
Smithsonian American Art Museum


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