Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art
3rd floor North, American Art Museum
(8th and F Streets, N.W.)
October 25, 2013 – March 2, 2014
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art explores a key cornerstone in our national narrative—that we are “a nation of immigrants”—by considering the varied contributions of Latino artists to American art and culture from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Featuring nearly 100 works across all media by some of the leading contemporary artists working in the United States, the exhibition will examine how their works express an unfolding and particular American experience.
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 celebrated hybrid cultural traditions. Approaching their practice with humor, irony, and valor, Latino artists critically probed American history and popular culture, revealing the possibilities and tensions of expansionism, migration, and settlement. Many devoted themselves to artistic experimentation, pushing the limits of their chosen medium. Our America will show how Latino artists tackled classic American themes and actively participated in the artistic movements of their day. It will present an evolving picture of our national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino.”
The artworks in this exhibition will be drawn entirely from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s pioneering collection of Latino art. Highlights include an installation altar by Amalia Mesa-Bains, which resonates with vernacular Chicano traditions and feminist art practices; the “recycled” films of Raphael Montañez Ortiz, which merge the artist's dual interests in Hollywood film and Native American ritual; and a 1960 geometric painting by Carmen Herrera, the pioneering Cuban-born artist who was part of the New York avant-garde at mid-century. Other notable artists in the exhibition include Olga Albizu, Melesio “Mel” Casas, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Margarita Cabrera, Enrique Chagoya, Teresita Fernández, Ken Gonzales-Day, Luis Jiménez, Ana Mendieta, Pepón Osorio, Sophie Rivera, Freddy Rodríguez and John Valadez, among many others. The exhibition will introduce more than fifty newly-acquired artworks from the museum’s permanent collection.
Our America is organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Go behind-the-scenes with the museum's blog, Eye Level
The museum’s blog Eye Level features a monthly series highlighting artworks and new acquisitions that will be displayed in the exhibition.
Preparing for Our America: Portraying Community in a Contested Field, December 13, 2012
Preparing for Our America: John Valadez’s Great American Streets, October 11, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Depicting Exile, September 6, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Raphael Montañez-Ortiz Deconstructs the Western, August 14, 2012
Preparing for Our America: Music and Abstraction, Works by Freddy Rodríguez, July 3, 2012
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is available for tour after closing at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. If you are interested in hosting the exhibition at your museum, please visit our traveling exhibitions page for contact information.
Confirmed venues include:
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, Florida (March 28, 2014–June 22, 2014)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City, Utah (February 6, 2015–May 17, 2015)
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Generous support for the exhibition has been provided by Altria Group, Aida M. Alvarez, Judah Best, The James F. Dicke Family Endowment, Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins, Tania and Tom Evans, and The Michael A. and the Honorable Marilyn Logsdon Mennello Endowment. Additional significant support, both financial and collegial, was provided by The Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Support for Treasures to Go, the Museum’s traveling exhibition program, comes from The C.F. Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia.