Latin American artists say 'we are here' with new exhibition in Marietta
In a new art exhibition titled “Something to Declare,” the Latin American artist’s desire to say, “We are here,” informs a vivid showcase of 20 artists from all over the Eastern United States. The display is on view through March 20 at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. Atlanta artist Carlos Solis curated the exhibition, and joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom along with the museum’s curator, Madeline Beck, introducing the show’s themes of Latin American being and representing in the U.S. art world.
In 2008, Solis founded the contemporary Latin American artists collective Contrapunto, or, “Counterpoint,” after moving to Atlanta from Chicago. “When I started visiting galleries and museums, I noticed a lack of Latin-American art. I don’t know, I just felt the urge. It’s like a call, telling me we need to do something about it,” said Solis.
His collective now comprises six artists from Latin American countries, including Nicaragua, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Solis’ own home country of Venezuela, with the goal of changing stereotypes and encouraging appreciation of the art traditions and innovations of those diverse communities.
“The portrayal of being an artist or a Latino in the States basically comes from the media, and when you watch TV, especially back in the nineties, it wasn’t too positive – let’s put it that way,” said Solis. “Based on my experience here, moving to Georgia, talking to people, especially people within the business, within the art world, you realize how bad it is. That motivates me even more to have this group to promote Latin American art because I believe art is a good way to create bridges and connect with people in a positive way.”
All of the Contrapunto collective’s members have contributed works to “Something to Declare,” and Solis sourced other contributors from all over the United States, all of them Latin American and with works engaged in the expression of cultural identity.
“Some of these topics are very deeply personal. Some of them are a bit more political. There’s art that discusses motherhood, but then there’s art that discusses Euros and currency, and a little bit more of the practical application of what it means to be a Latin American and a Latin American artist,” said Beck.
Beck described a piece in the exhibition, a focal point and conversation-starter titled “The Dilemma (Rachel),” by artist Jessica Caldas. “You’re immediately confronted with this pink, plush figure that hangs from the ceiling from what looks like rope harnesses, and bricks hang from her stomach above a mirror,” she said. “It immediately brings to mind concepts of exhaustion, the body being physically exhausted as well as emotional and mental exhaustion.”
Beck continued, “But when I asked [a visiting school group of] children what they saw, they immediately said, ‘It makes me think of being weighed down. It makes me think of being tired,’ but then they also said ‘It makes me think of Valentine’s Day. It’s pink, and it’s red, and it’s pretty, and it makes me think of girls,” which, I think, then beautifully ties into Jessica’s pretty frequent theme in her work of womanhood, especially with being a mother of a young child.”
“The beauty about all this is, as humans, we are very visual,” Solis said. “We base our stereotypes and ideas on what we watch on TV, but once you get to know the artist, the person, where you come from, your culture, everything changes.”
More information about “Something to Declare,” on view now through March 20 at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, can be found at mariettacobbartmuseum.org/something-to-declare-group-exhibition. In case you miss this exhibit in Atlanta, “Something to Declare” will be at The Quinlan Arts Center, Gainesville in June.