Histories of immigration, shifting demographics, and the impact of transnational trade policies like NAFTA have been points of departure for artists, curators and critics alike. Whereas exile and diaspora are issues that are inextricably bound to certain Latin American and United States based Latino artists, especially those directly impacted by displacement, the Chicana/o artist has a complex and fraught relationship to homeland because a binational —or even transnational— identity that is betwixt and between or “ni de aquí ni de allá”.

In the visual arts, Chicano art absorbs and redefines art movements like pop, neo-expressionism, and the like, but on an existential level, it broaches the uncertainties of identity and belonging in relation to this betweenness. Many of the works in this section, save Viva Paredes’ sculpture A Blessing for a Wetback (2010), are figurative representations. Bodies at work have been an inextricable part of Chicano art with representations of migrant farmworkers laboring under Central Californian skies depicted frequently in murals, paintings and political graphics.

Figurative representations have often been the site in Chicano art for a reimagining and affirmation of identity, but references to the laboring body in this section are more likely under threat or surveillance, criminalization, and/or disappearance. The policing or scripting of activity in public or private spaces is a major concern to those perceived as extralegal, “outsiders” or “aliens”.

Location and dislocation define the spatial and temporal conditions of Chicano identity. Ironically, the avant-garde has historically championed marginal or so-called outsider artistic practices, such as that by self-taught or “folk” artists. For Chicano artists, their “outsider” status is not only tied to being suspicious of the mainstream artistic networks of power, but a broader questioning of the fixity of identity and national belonging.

Rita Gonzalez

Building Bridges in Time of Walls is an unprecedented collaboration between AltaMed Health Services and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura. In partnership with Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero and the director of the Instituto de Bellas Artes y Literatura, Lucina JiménezBuilding Bridges is presented by Cástulo de la Rocha, President and CEO of AltaMed Health Services; and Zoila D. Escobar, President, AltaMed Foundation.

AltaMed Health Services serves Latino, multi-ethnic, and underserved communities in Southern California, and as part of its holistic approach to healthcare, exhibits its art collection throughout all its clinics and service sites, whose subjects reflect the diverse communities it serves.

To learn more about the AltaMed Art Collection, click here

Exhibition partners

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Virtual Inauguration with Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT)

THURSDAY, JUL 9, 2020 8:00 AM

Celebrate the launch of the online exhibition of Building Bridges in Time of Walls in this virtual reception with special guests from Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, the Instituto de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL), and AltaMed.
Visit the event HERE

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