A new Latino art exhibit will be unveiled this week at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA). It comes from the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
On one wall, there are protest posters boycotting grapes. On another, a photographic installation from an Afro-Cuban artist living in Boston, with pieces of hair spread out on 16 large format Polaroids. Then around the corner, there’s a section of abstract, modern pieces that you might not recognize as Latino art.
“It’s a rich, rich very diverse collection,” says Jorge Rojas, the new director of education and engagement at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. “I think a lot of times when people think about Latino art, sometimes they think about the more traditional, folk type of arts, and some people immediately think of Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera. This is an opportunity to see our contributions have been so much wider.”
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art explores the links between Latino art and US history through works that go back to the 1950s - when the concept of Latino identity began to emerge. UMFA curator Whitney Tassie says the show puts Latino artists on equal footing with other recognized American artists.
“An exhibition like this is great for our community,” Tassie says. “I think we’re often perceived as a very white state in Utah, and it’s not. That’s an old perception, and the numbers have changed. It’s important for us as a museum to reach out to those wider communities and to be able to have our communities see their experience reflected in great art!”
There is a free community preview and party on Thursday evening. “Our America” officially opens at the UMFA on Friday.