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A piece of The Serie Project at FWMoA
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
While every time period and subset of contemporary culture has some form of distinct visual representation, the dissemination of those images constrains the ability of that culture to interact and effect others. Through printmaking and artist's multiples, an artist is allowed a stronger voice and lower costs associated with the production of work, and a larger potential for financing their work. Through this less risky and more immediate dissemination of cultural formation
In Spring of 2013, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art made a major purchase of over 200 works created over the last two decades from The Serie Project, a non-profit organization founded by Sam Coronado in 1993 in Austin, Texas, that promotes the fine art of serigraphy. Over the last twenty years, The Serie Project nurtured over 250 artists from different backgrounds, whose work in serigraphs was collected to produce a comprehensive portfolio. The exhibition "Graphicanos: Contemporary Latino Prints from the Serie Project", opened on October 19, will be open until January 5, and is Fort Wayne’s first glimpse at this special FWMoA collection. Through this project in tying artists to this form of printmaking, it allowed them to continue to reflect the Mexican American and Latino experience in the United States.
Through Coronado's vision and life's work, the voice of a generation of Latino artists has been amplified and spread throughout the nation. "When Sam Coronado founded the Serie Project, he envisioned a workshop where underrepresented artists could benefit from collaboration and learn the serigraphy technique, a print technique also known as screen-printing or silkscreen." And subsequently, Austin, Texas has become a hub for development of Latino artists, through its vibrant and diverse arts community. Sadly, Sam Coronado suffered a stroke while giving his presentation at the Museum in early November, and passed away a few days later. At 67, Coronado had assisted in the careers of hundreds of artists from all backgrounds, multiple arts non-profits (The Serie Project, Mexic-Arte Museum, etc), and became an ambassador for underrepresented voices.
Some of these voices include artists like Quintin Gonzalez, Osvaldo Ramirez-Castillo, James Huizer, Esther Hernandez, and Miguel Aragon, all creating captivating images depicting the world that originally inspired Coronado's efforts.
Gonzalez's "Chicano 15", a psychedelic Luchador mask, depicts a fantastical version of this popular Mexican tradition of performers of the "Luche Libre" or free fights. Somewhere between a super hero and a hallucination, Gonzalez's version is something more with its four eyes, and stylized uniform.
An alternative to the idea of illusion, Aragon's "Pastos Verdes y Cielos!! Azules" ("Green Pastures, Blue Skies") is a demonstration of the false sense of stability usually perceived by criminals prior to an arrest, and depicts a police officer arresting a man who is leaning against a wall. The graffiti aspect of the designs behind the figures turns this image into something more common, an every day experience, and provides a connection to concept of the reality of life being sometimes concealed but ultimately never replaced by the arts which distract us from them.
This view of authority can be seen in Esther Hernandez's "Sun Raid,” a take off of the classic Sun Maid raisins graphic design depicting a women collecting grapes in a field backed by the raised Californian Sun. Hernandez's replacement of the young maiden with a dressed skeleton so eloquently describes the propagandistic element to Hernandez's works. The mixture of gravity and levity within the Serie images continues with Huizar's "The Big Boom,” a comic representation of the Sun spewing out destruction with a broken "2012" across the center of the image, providing a celebratory sense of doom harkening back to Aztec imagery.
Carrying on a deep respect and celebration for the pre-Colombian, and sometimes pre-historic Central American cultures, Ramirez-Castillo's "Nahual Soldier" explores pre-Hispanic mythology and folkloric aesthetics, while incorporating American pop and street art forms. "The image is also a constant exploration of historical trauma and memory of violence through personal iconologies I revise over time.” "Nahual" references the mesoamerican folk tradition of a human being who has the magical power to turn him or herself into an animal, as the image represents a man/puma combination.
As part of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art's vision for art and culture in our city, it is recognizing the great efforts of Coronado and the work of the Serie Project to support Chicano artists as important elements to include not just in its annual exhibitions, but also in its permanent collection. This work, and the voice of these artists, can be very applicable to our current community. Now, more than 200 prints from the groundbreaking series are accessible through the Graphicanos exhibit and after that, through the FWMoA Print and Drawing Study Center, the Museum's research center open to the public, and dedicated to the study and enjoyment of FWMoA’s extensive collection of works on paper. This worthwhile pursuit is an asset to our entire community, and it will, perhaps, inspire a new wave of young artists now discovering their own voices, looking for likeminded images and ideas.
FOR MORE INFO:
"Graphicanos: Contemporary Latino Prints"
Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Open through January 5, 2014