Latin Art in Minnesota: Conversations and What’s Next

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by William G. Franklin

Publication Date: Spring 2023

About the Author:

William G. Franklin “Billy” is a bilingual educator and independent art curator and will be presenting and authoring Latin Art in Minnesota: Conversations and What’s Next. A native of Venezuela, Franklin has lived in Minnesota for over twenty years and is uniquely qualified for this project as he brings his local curatorial experience and a keen understanding of the Latinx MN-based artists selected for this edition.

Franklin’s love for his native Spanish language and culture has allowed him to occasionally be appointed to teach Spanish—the language and the culture. He has taught at the University of Minnesota, Macalester College, New York University, and continues to teach at Carleton College. Franklin also teaches modern and contemporary art history at the Minneapolis College of Art Design and at Saint Cloud State University. Through these ongoing experiences, Franklin has not only connected to Latinx and other international students and faculty but has also taken advantage of each opportunity to promote the work of Minnesota-based Latinx artists.

Franklin was recently interviewed by Vicki Adame for MPRNews: Latino art’s variety in Minnesota focus of an upcoming book

About the Book:

Latin Art in Minnesota will bring to life a high-quality title documenting and highlighting some of the most thriving Latin art in Minnesota today. This book will be the first sampler on this genre ever published in Minnesota, featuring generous representation of Minnesota Latin art and offering an appealing visual experience in which the medium will be very much part of the message.

Minnesota Latino(a) artists and Latin art activity abound and are not recent phenomena—in fact, while this title will focus on today’s Latin art in the state of Minnesota, proper coverage of the topic will necessitate a measure of historical perspective. This book will create an opportunity for followers of Latin art and the general audience to enjoy a curated sample, in a coffee-table book format, of the work of twelve established and emerging Minnesota-based artists. This book will depict their art in words and in images.

The book will consist of a curated selection of images accompanied by transcribed interviews with twelve artists. The interview format will offer the reader a more intimate and direct connection with the artists. The interviews will be conducted by other community artists, curators, and people involved in the Minnesota Latin Art scene.

The TWELVE artists that will be highlighted in Latin Art in Minnesota:

  1. Alondra Marisol Garza‘s artwork embodies the dysfunctions, issues, and dualities of a bi-natural, bi-cultural, and bi-lingual Tejana/Chicana identity living in the United States. Her work transports the viewer into the experience of being in her world by utilizing an interdisciplinary practice consisting of painting, installation, sculpture, and photography.
  2. Alonso Sierralta‘s family moved to the United States from Chile when he was fourteen. His work uses symbolic and metaphorical subjects to create a narrative interaction exploring his experiences as an immigrant. He creates a dialogue between these elements to reflect his feelings living in two worlds.
  3. Carmen Gutiérrez-Bolger is a painter and multi-media artist who draws on her experiences growing up in southern Florida as a Cuban refugee by using personal history, Cuban iconography, texture, and geometry to convey the struggle to belong and to fit in—the immigrants’ process of assimilation.
  4. Cecilia Cornejo Sotelo is a documentary filmmaker, artist, and educator engaging rural communities in southern Minnesota in a multilayered exploration of home and belonging. Her experience growing up under a dictatorship in her native Chile led her to develop and artistic practice that encourages community members to reflect, envision, and generate paths toward collective wellbeing.
  5. Dougie Padilla‘s art channels transfiguration, spirituality, pain, sex, and the abundances of life through the many worlds he has traveled: Chican0(a)/Latin0(a) cultural warrior, anti-war activist, ashramite in India, psychedelic hippie farmer, single father, and local and regional arts scene mover and shaker.
  6. Guillermo Cuellar‘s pottery uses traditional, historical, and contemporary means to indicate the relationship between people and useful objects. His influences are the objects created by the Indigenous people of Venezuela, the Asian aesthetics of “folk art,” or “Mingei,” contemporary food culture, and Minnesota ceramics history and its clay community.
  7. Gustavo Lira García’s work uses styles ranging from realism to magical realism to explore themes of Indigenous identity, iconic Mexican imagery, social justice, and liberation. His work is part of collections in cultural institutions: Plains Art Museum, Weisman Art Museum, and The Minnesota History Center.
  8. Luis Fitch explores cross-cultural issues in multiple mediums: traditional Mexican paper cutting, silkscreen, traditional and digital illustration, mixed-media painting on canvas, and on recycling corrugated boxes, wheat paste, and urban art installations.
  9. Maria Cristina Tavera (Tina) examines cultural signifiers regarding constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, and national and cultural identities. Her art is often humorous and yet simultaneously confronts the dark legacy and pervasive effects of colonialism and racism in the Americas.
  10. Martha Gabriela Driessen is a photographer whose work explores the identity of Mexican people through candid moments of everyday life. Defined by the marriage of two cultures, her work is inspired by her Mexican essence, her American reality, and the simplicity of everyday life.
  11. Selma Fernández Richter is a visual artist who uses photographs and other materials to explore personal experiences to highlight the concerns faced by others seeking new lives in the United States. Her current project utilizes images and texts to illuminate how virtual interest groups support individuals undergoing real-time challenges.
  12. Xavier Tavera uses photography and moving images to document real and fictitious allegories to depict the Latin American diaspora in the United States, which is motivated by the methodical erasure of Latino(a) culture and the challenge to preserve and sustain it.

The Twelve interviewers:

  1. Carlos Carrasco, Actor and Filmmaker
  2. Gloria Echevarria Portal, Musician
  3. Evonne Gallardo, Arts and Culture Leader
  4. Heather Rutledge, Director of ArtReach in St. Croix
  5. Juan Escobedo, Photographer and Filmmaker
  6. María Isa, CEO of SotaRico, Artist, Musician, Mentor
  7. Nancy Ariza, Associate Curator of Learning and Engagement, Minnesota Museum of American Art
  8. Paola Nuñez-Obetz, Cine Latino Chair, Film Society Board, Community Leader
  9. Roma Calatayud-Stocks, Award-Wining Author, Composer, Visual Artist
  10. Sara Cluggish, Director and Curator of the Perlman Teaching Museum, Carleton College
  11. Ta-coumba T. Aiken, Painter and Art Activist
  12. William Hernández Luege, Visual Arts Curatorial Assistant, Walker Art Center
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