In celebration of its 50th anniversary, El Museo del Barrio will present Culture and the People: El Museo del Barrio, 1969–2019, a two-part exhibition featuring selections from the Permanent Collection and a timeline contextualizing the history of the institution with related archival materials. Curated by Susanna V. Temkin, El Museo’s Curator, and co-organized by Noel Valentin, El Museo's Permanent Collection Manager, the exhibition will reflect on the institution’s activist origins and pioneering role as a cultural and educational organization dedicated to Latinx and Latin American art and culture.
Opening April 11, 2019, the first part of the exhibition is comprised of more than 120 artworks by nearly 80 artists from the collection, whose work offers a multitude of perspectives related to core aspects of El Museo del Barrio’s legacy. The second part of the exhibition opens June 11, 2019, which unveils a chronological timeline of the institution's history. The opening coincides with the Museum Mile Festival on June 11, 2019. Both sections will be on view through September 29, 2019. The exhibition borrows its title from an essay penned by one of the Museum’s founders and its first director Raphael Montañez Ortíz, who outlined his concept for the institution in a 1971 article published in Art in America.
"The founding of El Museo del Barrio in 1969 was originated by Puerto Rican educators, artists, and activists under the mission of presenting, preserving, and promoting their art and culture” says Patrick Charpenel, El Museo's Executive Director. “Fifty years later, we recognize the importance of this pivotal historical moment and commemorate this act of cultural resistance. With Culture and the People, we continue to rewrite the history of the United States to include the broad spectrum of cultural and historical contributions by Puerto Rican, Latinx, and Latin American communities."
In addition to the two part-exhibition Culture and the People, El Museo will initiate a cycle of exhibitions dedicated to the Museum's Permanent Collection in 2020. The cycle will focus on specific works from the collection, including room-size installations and in-depth bodies of work, enabling El Museo's curators to work directly with artists, scholars, and conservators to uncover new research and grant further public access to the Museum’s Permanent Collection.
Organized in thematic sections, Culture and the People features selections from the Permanent Collection that explores the legacy of El Museo del Barrio through the concepts of Roots, Resistance, and Resilience. In Roots, artworks will be presented that address El Museo’s formation within the social and political context of 1969, and its relationship with the artists and local community of El Barrio (East Harlem). This section will also take a more expansive perspective to cultural roots, through works that reference colonial and indigenous ancestries.
In direct response to the Museum’s activist origins, the section devoted to Resistance includes artworks related to protest, gestures of solidarity, dictatorship, and exile. Created in homage to national heroes and fallen martyrs, as well as commemorating specific events, these pieces address historical political grievances and relate to contemporary events such as the ongoing border crisis.
The final section, Resilience, recognizes El Museo’s ongoing commitment to its mission. In this section, works related to the construction and expression of self- identity will be displayed, alongside images that reflect a sometimes subversive or humorous method of survival. This section will culminate with a presentation of artworks that speak to personal and collective resilience, as well as the continuation of cultural traditions.
Each section will feature artists of diverse cultural backgrounds and generations, and will range from indigenous art and artifacts to contemporary paintings and installation art. A number of the pieces on view will relate to multiple sections, inviting audiences to recognize echoes and dialogues between the pieces on display. The exhibition will feature new acquisitions as well as artworks that have never been publicly presented, in addition to artworks familiar to El Museo audiences.
“Since its first donation of La estampa puertorriqueña [The Puerto Rican Print] print portfolio in 1971, El Museo has grown its collection to over 8,000 artworks that span across the Americas, in both time and place,” notes Temkin. “The works included in this 50th anniversary exhibition address themes that are critically bound to El Museo’s historical legacy, ranging from political advocacy and education to a recognition of indigenous origins and a perseverance of identity and traditions.”
Featured Artists (list in formation as of March 5, 2019 and subject to changes) Adál, Ignacio Aguirre, ASCO, Myrna Báez, Diógenes Ballester, Tony Bechara, Charles Biasiny-Rivera, Tania Bruguera, Roger Cabán, Rodríguez Calero, Luis Camnitzer, Martin Chambi, Papo Colo, Luis Cruz Azaceta, Felipe Dante, Margarita Deida and Piedro Pietri, Ana de la Cueva, Milagros de la Torre, Perla de León, Bartolomé de las Casas, Marcos Dimas, Nicolás Dumit- Estévez, Rafael Ferrer, León Ferrari, Antonio Frasconi, Coco Fusco, Carlos Garaicoa, Domingo García, iliana emilia garcía, Arturo García Bustos, Flor Garduño, Guillermo Gomez-Peña, Beatriz González, Félix González-Torres, Muriel Hasbún, Pablo Helguera, Ester Hernández, Gilberto Hernández, Carmen Herrera, Lorenzo Homar, Graciela Iturbide, Alfredo Jaar, Ivelisse Jiménez, Charles Juhász- Alvarado, Shaun “El. C.” Leonardo, Rodrigo Lobos, Richard A. Lou, Miguel Luciano, Antonio Maldonado, Carlos Marichal, Hiram Maristany, Antonio Martorell, Héctor Méndez Caratini, Raphael Montañez Ortíz, Arnaldo Morales, José Morales, Marta Moreno Vega, Rachelle Mozman, Francisco Manuel Oller y Cestero, Pepón Osorio, César Paternosto, Dulce Pinzón, Miguel Rio Branco, Rubén Rivera Aponte, Arnaldo Roche-Rabell, Félix Rodríguez Báez, Freddy Rodríguez, José A. Rosa Castellanos, Fernando Salicrup, Juan Sánchez, Jorge Soto Sánchez, Taller de Gráfica Popular, Rubén Torres-Llorca, Nitza Tufiño, Rafael Tufiño, Patssi Valdez, Vargas-Suárez Universal, Rigoberto Torres, and the Young Lords Party.