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Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

(b Havana, 1968).

Cuban installation and performance artist, active also in the USA. In Havana Bruguera attended the Escuela de Artes Plasticas San Alejandro (1983–7) and completed her first degree at the Instituto Superior de Arte (1987–92). Bruguera is part of a generation of artists who emerged during Cuba’s ‘special period’ (1989–94), the period of extreme economic hardship brought about by the country’s sudden isolation from trade and aid following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. In 1993 and 1994 she published two issues of an underground newspaper entitled Memoria de la postguerra (‘Memory of the Post-war Era’), containing texts by Cuban artists, both those still in Cuba and those in exile. The paper displayed an interest in the affective power of information as it is circulated and withheld, a common theme of her later work.

Bruguera’s use of performance from the mid-1990s onwards brought her work to wider critical attention. In an early piece, ...

Article

Deborah Cullen

(b Mexico City, 1955).

Mexican–American performance and installation artist and writer. Guillermo Gómez-Peña studied linguistics and Latin American literature at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1974–8) in Mexico City. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and received both his BA (1981) and his MA (1983) from the California Institute of the Arts. A performance artist, writer, activist and educator, Gómez-Peña’s work addresses the north–south border and US–Mexican interactions. He pioneered performance art, experimental radio, video and installation art.

Gómez-Peña relocated to San Diego in the early 1980s, where he co-founded the performative collaborative Poyesis Genética in 1981 with Sara-Jo Berman. In 1984 he was a founding member of the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF), originally based at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Balboa Park, where he collaborated until 1990.

Gómez-Peña became known for his densely written texts, often expressed through newspaper, radio or experimental publications, including the early border journal ...

Article

Sarah Urist Green

revised by Julia Detchon

(b Santiago, Chile, Feb 5, 1956).

Chilean architect, public interventionist, installation artist, photographer, and filmmaker, active in the USA. He first studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, then filmmaking at the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano de Cultura, Santiago, concluding in 1981. Throughout his career, Jaar’s works have taken many forms in order to address global themes of injustice and illuminate structures of power. In over fifty projects he termed “public interventions,” Jaar conducted extensive research around the world to create site-specific works that reflect political and social realities near and far from his sites of exhibition. He created works—in gallery spaces and in public, often engaging spectator involvement—that present images critically and confront the social and political interests they serve.

Jaar’s first public intervention was Studies on Happiness (1979–1981), a three-year series of performances and exhibitions in which he asked the question, “Are you happy?” of people in the streets of Santiago. Inspired by ...

Article

Courtney Gerber

(b Greenville, MI, Aug 6, 1945).

American painter and installation artist. She studied first at the Memphis Academy of Art (1965), then at the University of the Americas, Mexico City (1966–7) and finally at the St Martin’s School of Art, London (1968–9). She had her first solo exhibition in 1977 at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York. Jaudon completed numerous permanent public art commissions and her paintings are represented in collections throughout the USA and Europe. In the 1970s Jaudon was linked most closely to the pattern and decoration movement (P&D). Her participation in this movement demonstrated her engagement with issues that were also understood as being at the core of the contemporaneous feminist art movement: disrupting the modernist definition of fine art as non-decorative, strictly formal, and, generally, produced by white men from Western cultures. In the painting Bellefontaine (1976; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 52), Jaudon fused modernism’s geometric abstraction with the interlacing curves and angles found in Islamic or Celtic ornamentation from the Middle Ages. She consciously takes care that the Western idiom of abstract painting does not overpower the non-Western decorative motifs, so that they coexist in a cross-cultural, non-hierarchical collaboration....

Article

Susan Snodgrass

(b Madrid, Spain, 1961).

Chicago-based American sculptor also working in photography, video and installation. He received a BA in art and art history and a BA in Latin American and Spanish literature from Williams College in 1983. In 1989 he earned a MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Manglano-Ovalle’s hybrid practice emerged with Tele-vecindario: A Street-Level Video Block Party, a public art project created for Culture in Action, a community-based art program in Chicago in 1992–3. Working with Latino youth in Chicago’s West Town community, an area often challenged by substandard housing, drugs and gang violence, the artist facilitated a multimedia portrait of their lives in which these youth constructed their own images and concept of self. Issues of identity, community and migration, as they relate to both cultural and geographic borders, have been explored throughout his prestigious career that includes collaborative modes of working, as well as individual works sited within the museum or gallery. For Manglano-Ovalle, culture encompasses a broad network of systems—artistic, political, environmental, scientific—in constant dialogue, negotiated by both artist and viewer....

Article

Denise Carvalho

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1948).

Brazilian interventionist, multimedia, installation and conceptual artist, considered the most influential contemporary artist of his country. While international critics have compared his work with North American Minimalism and Conceptual art, Meireles insisted that art should be seductive. He studied at the National School of Fine Arts and at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. Coming of age at a time of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–85), he circumvented strict state censorship with a series of interventionist works, adding politically charged texts and reinserting the works back into circulation.

Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970) included Coca-Cola bottles with the added text ‘Yankees. Go Home!’ In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project (1970), the same message was printed on one dollar bills, and on the current Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro. Some bills also queried ‘Who killed Herzog?’ referring to a Brazilian journalist who died while in police custody. Meireles’ series utilizes a mechanistic process of capitalistic insertion and circulation, adding phrases that question the methods and policies of the dictatorship. ...

Article

Celia Stahr

(b Santa Clara, CA, July 10, 1943).

American Chicana installation artist and art educator. Mesa-Bains received a BA in painting from San José State University (1966), an MA in interdisciplinary education from San Francisco State University (1971), and an MA and PhD in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA (1983). She became the director of the Visual and Public Art Department, California State University, Monterey Bay, a position she held until her retirement in May 2006.

At the age of five, Mesa-Bains knew that she wanted to be an artist. Observing her grandmother tending to her altares (home altars) and her godmother tending her capillas (yard shrines) influenced Mesa-Bains’s use of altares for her artistic expression. Altares allowed her to explore Latina history within a patriarchal system because altares are a female response to the male-dominated rituals within Catholicism. Domesticana, an important concept for her artwork, is a feminized version of ...

Article

Joan Kee

(b Taichung, Feb 16, 1964).

Taiwanese conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Lee spent his childhood in Taichung, where he studied Chan Buddhism from the age of eight. At 12, Lee spent time among Taiwanese expatriates in the Dominican Republic, and two years later moved to the USA, where he later studied biology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He transferred, however, to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA, where he focused on architecture and textiles (1993). During this time, Lee made work that originated from personal memories, such as One Hundred Days with Lily (1995), which he started after his grandmother’s death. This work was a long-term endeavour documenting the life cycle of a lily that Lee took with him as he went about his daily activities in San Francisco.

After graduating from Oakland, Lee went on to receive a master’s degree in sculpture from the Yale School of Art. At Yale, Lee expanded upon his interest in interpersonal communication, which resulted in the production of works such as ...

Article

Annie Dell’Aria

(b Santurce, Puerto Rico, Jun 10, 1955).

American sculptor and installation artist. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Osorio came to New York in 1975 and earned a BSc in sociology from Lehman College, Bronx, in 1978. He then earned an MA in art education from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1985. Osorio spent much of his early years in New York as a social worker in Puerto Rican neighborhoods in the South Bronx, an experience that would inform both his aesthetic style and his artistic involvement with Latin American communities.

Osorio worked primarily in Assemblage sculpture, which led to more elaborate and ornate multimedia installations. From the mid-1980s, his practice was characterized by an overabundance of kitschy objects and a keen eye for the intricacies of Nuyorican (New York–Puerto Rican) material culture and family life. In 1985, a turning point in his stylistic development, he created La Bicicleta (The Bicycle) (New York, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts), which references the vehicular decoration of street peddlers in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and 1960s. This hanging bicycle covered with flowers, ribbons, plastic trees, Kewpie dolls, and many other cheap adornments was rendered useless as a mode of transportation and made entirely sculptural. Osorio’s later installations maintained this attention to vernacular decoration, but were more narrative in their investigation of urban Latino communities. For the ...

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b Los Angeles, CA, Feb 10, 1938).

American conceptual artist, painter and draughtswoman. She studied at the Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles (1954–5), at the Instituto de Bellas Artes, Mexico City (1955–6), under Diego Rivera, and at the New School for Social Research, New York (1958–60). Her first exhibition was at Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (1973). As a child Stuart accompanied her father, an engineer, to survey and map water lines in the deserts of southern California. While working as a topographical draughtswoman and topographer for the Army Corps of Engineers she mapped the earth’s crust from Las Vegas, USA, to Korea. Stuart acknowledged the influence of such experiences on her work, which focuses on a celebration of human culture and its various artefacts, rituals, and monuments, often incorporating the arts of non-Western societies. Her early works took the form of large sculptural scrolls, made of paper impressed with site-specific earth and rocks, for example ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b Caracas, Venezuela, May 23, 1960).

Venezuelan artist active in the USA. He studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York, graduating in 1983. In his early works he printed enlarged weave patterns onto canvas and other materials, giving a synthetic look to his mock modernist paintings and sculptures, as in Double Single Bed (laminated process inks on canvas and wood with mattresses, 1986; London, Saatchi Gal.). Here it is the title and the print on the rectangular units that gives domestic resonance to the apparently Minimalist form. In a series made in 1990, Vaisman incorporated cartoon imagery into commercial reproductions of medieval tapestries, creating ridiculous, ‘bad taste’ compositions; in one such work, The Crusaders (1990; see 1990 exh. cat.), Mickey Mouse and friends join soldiers as they go into battle. In the mid-1990s he took this idea of humorous juxtaposition further with the Turkey series, for which he dressed up stuffed turkeys in a variety of costumes and skins so that they took hybrid form, presenting cultural identity as only so many options. In ...

Article

Anne K. Swartz

(b Primavera, Paraguay, 1943).

American installation and performance artist, writer and educator of Paraguayan birth. Emigrating from Paraguay to the United States in 1961, Faith Wilding consistently examined the social role of women and their bodies as the subject of her art. She received her BA in English with honors from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. Wilding did postgraduate studies in Art and Art History at California State University, Fresno, where she met the artist Judy Chicago, who founded the first Feminist Art Program. Wilding completed her MFA at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and served as teaching assistant for the renowned Feminist Art Program (FAP), team-taught by Chicago and artist Miriam Schapiro. In the FAP, Wilding led a consciousness-raising group and a journal writing class, in addition to participating in the famed collaborative project Womanhouse (Jan 30–Feb 28, 1972) with her crocheted installation Crocheted Environment (Womb Room) , which resembles a loosely crocheted spider’s web, and in the performance ...