Q&A with Latinx Art Sessions Co-Organizer Naiomy Guerrero

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Latinx Art Sessions co-organizer Naiomy Guerrero. Photo by Rod Deal. 

We’re thrilled to kick-off our first-ever Latinx Art Sessions, a two-day program (January 24-25, 2019) co-presented by ArtCenter/South Florida and Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) exploring Latinx identity in contemporary art.

A recent and contested term, Latinx was initially introduced to subvert the gender binary of the Spanish language, as an alternative to the term Latino/a/@. Within the visual arts, Latinx reconsiders artists of Latin American descent whose practice is informed by a lived U.S. experience. This term encompasses a heterogeneous group of artists who often portray notions of multilingualism, creolization, and migration and whose work illustrate shifting identities rooted in multiple cultural locations.

The term Latinx often attracts its own share of healthy criticisms and controversies about stakeholders and the emergence of dominant discourses. These blurry definitions, questions, and critiques point to a discussion still in formation. Through a series of public programs Latinx Sessions is a call to action for heightened visibility, solidarity, and access to mobility within the field. In these sessions, Latinx is an expansive framework, emerging out of a long-standing history of artistic contributions in the U.S. As such, we can think of Latinx art as a future-oriented conversation establishing the terms of its own visual language now.

This program is organized by María Elena Ortiz Associate Curator, PAMM, Naiomy Guerrero, DAMLI Curatorial Fellow, PAMM, and Natalia Zuluaga, Director, [NAME] Publications.

We sat down with Guerrero and chatted about the inspiration behind the program, its importance, and more.

What was the inspiration behind Latinx Art Sessions and how did it come to be?
In the fall of 2016, María Elena and I both attended the U.S. Latinx Arts Futures Symposium at the Ford Foundation in New York. Teresita Fernández, artist and project director of the symposium, extended an invitation to me. At the time, I was capturing and visiting artists of U.S. Latinx descent in New York, doing field research for a piece I later published with Artsy, on how the U.S. Latinx category is a viable art historical framework we can use to contextualize artists (often coming from systematically disenfranchised communities) who fit within it. After the article was published, I began cataloguing my research and building a website to showcase living Latinx artists and help build connection, solidarity, and provide information for the Latinx art community.

After I received the fellowship and got to PAMM, I met with María Elena and she shared that she had been collaborating with Natalia Zuluaga and planning a gathering at the museum to discuss U.S. Latinx art. Latinx Art Sessions had synergy with my research interests and I was happy to join the team and make it happen.

Tell us about the importance of this program here in Miami.
This is a national/global conversation, and should be happening everywhere. We felt it was really important to have the conversation in Miami, as Latinidad has different nuances here. Over 60% of the city identifies as Latino/Hispanic (according to the latest Census), Miami itself is very Latinx. Latinidad can, of course, look differently depending on where you are, the skin you live in, and that is certainly the case for Miami. There is a rich history of Latinx folks building this city, struggling here, succeeding here, and transforming Miami. It is important for this city especially to have challenging conversations about who we have been, are, and want to be.

What are some of the objectives for Latinx Art Sessions?
One of the goals is to get folks together to have the conversation and identify actionable goals we can set as a community to improve conditions for Latinx artists and art professionals. I would like for us to air our grievances with what the Latinx art movement has looked like prior to this moment we are living in. For artists to share what their needs are with us. Our struggles with the term itself. I know that any term we choose can feel limiting in the boundaries categories can set, and I want to hear those thoughts as well. In the end, the call is to be expansive and plural. It is vital that the most vulnerable and systematically disenfranchised folks in our community are centered. We are not a monolithic community, and it is important we are able to unpack what it is to be a Black/indigenous/Brown/Queer/Trans/Non-Binary Latinx creative, and how those experiences affect the way we move through the art world. I am interested in an intergenerational conversation informed by our various sociopolitical and cultural histories. It was really important for us to have folks that have been doing the work and having these conversations for decades in the room. I am not expecting everyone in the room to agree with one another, and I think that is what will make our gathering so rich. I hope that we are all ready and eager to learn from one another. The wish is for this gathering to instigate action beyond these two days across disciplines and organizations.

How can the community sign up to attend the sessions?
You can sign up to attend each panel separately here: https://latinxsessions.org/program-information/

 

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