CREATIVE PEAKS: When People See ‘the Other’ in Themselves

By on April 25, 2017

Landmark new exhibit gives voice and perspective to the valley’s marginalized populace.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Saturday evening marks the anticipated opening of “Art in Translation,” an exhibition by three Mexican artists who have been working in Jackson Hole to create art about Jackson’s Latino community.

Presented by the Art Association and curated by Cecilia Delgado Masse, a curator at muca-Roma contemporary art museum in Mexico City, the exhibition considers the themes of home, language and identity.

According to Delgado Masse, the project explores Jackson’s multicultural community, and to what extent we understand each other’s cultures.

“Today we live with the idea of a global world, where everything is possible if you work for the capital model,” Masse said. “However, sometimes we don’t have the capacity to see the contexts, necessities and identities of ‘the others’ of the same community.”

Bringing these “other” contexts into focus is exactly the point of the exhibition, explained Art Association executive director Mark Nowlin. “Identity, language and home are core elements that define our sense of self and feelings of belonging. It is through these constructs that individuals and communities tell our stories.”

Masse said she chose the artists carefully, based on their previous work and their ability to work with communities. The artists are all part of an emerging generation of contemporary Mexican artists. “Their work is characterized by a local creativity that identifies political, economic and social problems,” she explained.

Artist and writer Verónica Gerber Bicecci has been working with Pati Rocha from Teton County Library. She will present a radio program in English and Spanish that combines visual and performance pieces to highlight the experience of similar stories being told in both languages.

During an artist talk last week, Bicecci said she has been conducting workshops with students in the community and playing with a few words of particular interest: “border,” “language,” “migrant,” and “emoji.”

“I’m reflecting on how language can bring us close but also separate us,” she said. “Words can signify subjective things to each of us. When we say them, we don’t know what the other is going to understand and feel, even if we are speaking the same language.”

Award-winning multimedia artist Sandra Calvo utilized her social, collaborative and site-specific artistic practice to create an installation about housing, shelter, and territory issues in Jackson. In collaboration with Carmina Oaks and Jorge Moreno from One22, Calvo’s installation piece reflects the perils of the housing crisis here in Teton County and the people impacted.

Calvo won Best Project at the Havana Arts Biennale in 2015. For her “Multiplicity of the Inner Landscape” project she reimagined Havana’s tenement housing in intricately designed cardboard structures inside crumbling historical buildings in the city. These structures replicated and commented on Cuba’s housing crisis, in which the state allowed families to build tenements in old buildings that it could no longer afford to maintain.

“I wanted to explore what is a house, to its inhabitants, also to architects,” Calvo told Art Nouveau magazine. “Havana is an implosion, with everything built up and up on the inside, hidden behind crumbling facades.”

Filmmaker Edgardo Aragón will present a video showcasing the parallel landscapes shared by Jackson and Tlaxcala, Mexico. Aragón has been working with Angel Ramos from Hoback Junction. The video will feature some of Angel’s experiences attempting to integrate into the Jackson community while maintaining connections with his hometown.

Aragon has exhibited internationally. According to the Art Gallery of Ontario, his film and photography “often document performance and sculptural interventions against landscapes that appear at once serene and foreboding.” He is particularly interested in the land near his hometown of Oaxaca as well as mythic landscapes of the American West.

Masse said she hopes the three artists bring “fresh air” and ideas to Jackson, sparking new thinking and understanding. “The value of a work of art consists of its ability to arrest, even if temporarily, the stream of purposeful acts and dispositions that we bear as a routine of everyday life,” she said. “It affords us a moment’s respite from the strain of maintaining a purely functional [existence].”

By examining how language functions, and taking a closer look at the meaning of a home and home territory, Art in Translation aims to open a dialogue among people of different backgrounds.

“Jackson’s Latino community is a vital, vibrant part of our economy, culture and way of life here in the valley,” Nowlin said. “Art in Translation aims to engage our Latino community in meaningful art education experiences that help to bridge cultural barriers and facilitate a greater dialogue.”

Masse said this dialogue will hopefully lead to a “second sight,” or better comprehension of the entirety of the local Jackson community, based on humanity not prejudice.  PJH

Art in Translation exhibition opening, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29 at the Art Association gallery.

About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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