By Gail-Agnes Musikavanhu
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
For the first time in its history, the Davis Museum has created a full floor exhibition featuring highlights of its extensive Latin American collection in “Art_Latin_America: Against the Survey.” The exhibit is an amalgamation of pieces collected in the past 20-plus years and represents a push to create a major regional resource of Latin American and Latino artwork at the Wellesley College museum.
The diverse collection spans along and between the walls of the lower floor and features photography, paintings, sculptures and prints that are divided into eight thought-provoking sections headlined by topics such as “War and Loss,” “Identity and Territory” and “Protest and Propaganda.”
The exhibit’s title, “Art_Latin_America,” creatively demonstrates an overarching message within the show: that there is no one quintessential Latin American space or identity. The underscores between the words leave space for the many forms and faces of Latin American art, expanding rather than restricting the possibilities for the exhibit.
“We have a very expansive definition of what fits in the show,” shares exhibit curator James Oles. “It’s not really a show of ‘Latin American art’ - that’s why the show’s title is sort of ambiguous with just these three words: Art, Latin, and America. It’s not ‘Latin American Art’ or ‘Art from Latin America.’ It’s art that has to do with Latin America and the Latinx presence in the United States.”
Oles has served as adjunct curator of Latin American Art at the Davis Museum for almost as long as it has taken to collect the artwork for this exhibition. As a curator at a regional museum, Oles expressed his desire to focus on artists and places that have been left out of mainstream histories. “People get so distracted by the star power of say, Frida Kahlo, that they don’t look at the other people in the room or pay much attention to them. And that’s something we’re avoiding,” he shares.
The show features works by ninety-nine artists from a dozen different countries, including the United States – some who may be familiar and others who may not. As a result, the show exhibits a diversity of styles, periods, points of view and types of imagery that is in accordance with its expansive thesis.
“Art_Latin_America: Against the Survey” will be up until June 9.