Sunday, October 30, 2016

"MUJERES"-- Five Latina Artists Exhibit Their Work in Kearney, Nebraska

"Mujeres" Artists (left to right): Reneé Ledesma, Claudia Alvarez, Sandra Williams,
Linda Garcia-Perez, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez
On Saturday, October 22nd, The Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA), in Kearney, Nebraska, held its opening reception for "MUJERES," an exhibition featuring work by five Latina artists who consider Nebraska as "home."  The well-attended opening reception gave guests an opportunity to hear the artists speak about their work, to personally meet them, and ask them additional questions.  This exhibition will be on display until February 12, 2017 so there is time for you to visit and enjoy these wonderful pieces. 

Teliza V. Rodriguez, the Curator at MONA took a number of years to carefully conceptualize and plan the exhibit.  MUJERES brings us an opportunity to learn from and celebrate Nebraska’s Latina women artists who present a “new Mestiza consciousness”— beautifully illustrating from where they came, and how they walk today on this Nebraska land.  

Installation painting by Claudia Alvarez

Teliza V. Rodriguez, MONA Curator, giving the opening remarks
During the Q&A, Teliza V. Rodriguez asked the artists to discuss how they consider their work in regards to latinidad and gender.  Sandra Williams noted that her latinidad is inextricable from her work, while Reneé Ledesma explained that she came to consider her identity in the creation of her clay pieces.  Claudia Alvarez, who was born in Mexico,  came to Nebraska much later, having worked in the art department at University of California Davis and at the Beavis Center.  She says, "wherever I am, that is where my home is."  Linda Garcia-Perez has been greatly influenced by her research in Mexican art. 

"Mujeres" Artists left to right:  Sandra Williams, Reneé Ledesma, Linda Garcia-Perez, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, Claudia Alvarez, and MONA Curator, Teliza V. Rodriguez
 For Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, her first identification with being an artist is being a feminist.  The notion of latinidad came after--when she moved to the United States from Colombia.  Living in the U.S. has encouraged her to express her artwork in terms of going back to her Colombian roots, creating a "cultural memory of Latin America."  Nancy says, "I'm a hybrid that rides a line between cultures and worlds."

Q&A Artists (left to right): Linda Garcia-Perez, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez,
Claudia Alvarez; MONA Curator, Teliza V. Rodriguez asking questions
In the catalog to "MUJERES," Teliza V. Rodriguez writes, "Those selected to take part in this exhibition are: Mexican born, New York and Omaha-Based artist, Claudia Alvarez; Colombian-born, Brooklyn and Lincoln-based artist, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez; Mexican-American Omaha artist, Linda Garcia-Perez; Mexican-American Omaha artist, Reneé A. Ledesma; Sandra Williams who foregrounds her Peruvian ethnicity in her work. While each of the artists hails from different backgrounds and experiences . . . their work swirls around themes of family, history, society, and spirituality . . . "

Opening Reception Q&A (left to right): Sandra Williams, Reneé Ledesma, 
Linda Garcia-Perez, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez, Claudia Alvarez

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez broadened her discussion of feminism by explaining how, in her piece "Cornucopia," the flowers are magnified while the animals and individuals depicted are much smaller. Flowers are often seen as female symbols, she explained.  Friedemann-Sánchez, therefore, places the "female" as having primary value in this piece.  "By putting them [the flowers] in a monumental way, I also tie the feminine into a craft tradition--heroizing the art and the craft."  She also explained that "Cornucopia" is a "visual novel.  This piece is chapter 4, existing between two cultures:  A narrative of immigration memory and subconscious as well as [revealing] what we do to nature (the abuse of the environment)."

Artist, Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez discussing her work, "Cornucopia" (behind her)
during the Q&A
"Cornucopia" by Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez

"Cornucopia" (close-up) by Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez
"Cornucopia" (close-up) by Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez

"Mujeres" Opening Reception: Q&A

"Mujeres" opening reception: Q&A
Artist, Claudia Alvarez

Artist, Claudia Alvarez says her "smart and incredible mother" is one of her major inspirations.  Alvarez was among nine children her mother raised.  "My work reflects how she raised us." As well, she has worked for a number of years with women affected by domestic violence.  She has also experimented in taking these pieces, placing them in different environments, and photographing them in various settings to reveal diverse perspectives.  She says she's interested in broadening her work to include photography.

Installation, "La Casa de Tierra" by Artist, Claudia Alvarez

In the foreground:  "La Casa de Tierra" by Claudia Alvarez and in the background,
"The Bear Prince: A Peruvian Folk-Tale," cut-paper works by Sandra Williams
For Linda Garcia-Perez, her paintings and paper cut-outs reflect her Mexican heritage.  She says she's always baffled when people say that some of her work "doesn't look like Mexican art.  Language teaches you to look at life in various ways.  I am most concerned with women's voices that are today being silenced."  

Artist, Linda Garcia-Perez with her "Papel Picado" behind her

Linda Garcia-Perez's painting, "Cuando El Lenguaje Murio" (When Language Died)

Artists Claudia Alvarez and Linda Garcia-Perez

Artist, Linda Garcia-Perez's "Papel Picado"
Artist, Reneé Ledesma was born in San Diego, California.  She came to live in Bellevue, Nebraska when she was six years old.  For many years she was fascinated with animal spirit symbols and has sought to capture them in various forms, primarily in clay.  

Artist, Reneé Ledesma, with her sculptures
Sculpture by Artist, Reneé Ledesma

Sculpture by Artist, Reneé Ledesma
Artist Sandra Williams says that her work is very narrative and literal.  Her installation that includes seven paper cut-out pieces visually narrate a Peruvian fairy tale that is not available in any publishable form.  Instead, this fairy-tale has been passed down orally.  "It is an unusual fairy tale. I was in a workshop in the jungles of Peru--a cultural sustainability workshop.  Because my older work was ecologically irresponsible, I chose to change to cut paper and watercolor.  In Nebraska, I felt stranded without family so I began going to Peru.  This is a 'Reverse Story'--a man and woman walk to the rain forest and as they are walking, he begins to become a bear.  It is a theme of hybridism because, later, they have a child that is half bear." Sandra went on to explain how stories like this usually begin with the animal transforming back to a human.  The fact that the child becomes half bear and then returns to the forest places the emphasis and value on the natural world.  "My work now," she says, "is ecofeminist infused."

Artist Sandra Williams with "Bear Prince:  A Peruvian Folk Tale,"cut-paper works

"Bear Prince, A Peruvian Folk-Tale" by Sandra Williams

Close-up of "Bear Prince Peruvian folk-tale" print by Sandra Williams
The evening of art display and discussion could not have been successful without the help of the students below.  --A shout-out to the wonderful students from University of Nebraska-Kearney who helped make the exhibit opening reception a resounding success!
Students from University of Nebraska-Kearney who assisted with the installation and opening reception
Here's hoping that YOU, dear Gente, will be able to make it to MONA sometime before February 12, 2017 to explore and enjoy these wonderful Latina art works!

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