Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

The Cuban-American artist Paul Sierra begins this lecture, delivered at the Terra Museum of Art in Chicago, by declaring that even though he has been asked to speak about the “sources of Hispanic Art,” he has decided to speak instead about Hispanic artists in the United States because he is a painter and not an art historian. Sierra notes that “Hispanic” was a term created by the United States Census Bureau that is inaccurate at all. Hispanics are not one group of people, but are comprised of many distinctive national groups. He notes that they immigrated to the United States for economic and political reasons; that the art of immigrants who migrated for economic reasons tends to seek social justice, while the art of immigrants who moved for political ones does not. Primarily, due to the fact that its creators tend to be middle-class and know how to work within the system. An additional difference among Hispanics artists implies their cultural backgrounds. Argentina, for example, has no Native American culture to speak of, and most of its cultural influences come from Europe, Sierra argues. As for the perception that Hispanic art is naïve or leftist, Sierra overtly states that any true culture has and needs room for all kinds of creative approaches.

Annotations

The Chicago-based, Cuban-born artist Paul Sierra delivered this lecture at the Terra Museum of Art in Chicago for the exhibition Mira! The Canadian Club Hispanic Art Tour III (on view December 3, 1988–January 29, 1989), which included the work of artists Pérez Celis and Amalia Mesa-Bains. In this lecture, Sierra takes advantage of this opportunity to call attention to the diversity—especially of class and ethnicity—of Hispanic artists working in the United States, and to compel Hispanic artists to direct their efforts at transforming mainstream art and culture in the United States.

Researcher
Victor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Team
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Credit
Courtesy of Paul Sierra, Chicago, IL