LatinXAmerican: Chicago’s DePaul Art Museum’s exhibition honoring the intersection between Latinx and American culture
The hope for organizers is for exhibitions of its kind to become more commonplace nationwide.
The exhibition has been on display since January 2021, and will be closing its doors this August.
LatinXAmerican includes an array of showcased items, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, textiles, videos, paper-based work, and installations from the museum’s collections.
The DePaul Art Museum, DPAM for short, was built in Chicago in 2011. The museum is located “in the heart of” Lincoln Park on DePaul University’s campus. Open to the public, DPAM offers four to nine temporary exhibitions annually.
The museum also houses a permanent collection of over 3,500 objects of international, modern, contemporary art.
LatinXAmerican originally opened to audiences in virtual format only, later unlocking doors for in-person museum-goers. The works featured in LatinXAmerican can be viewed online virtually in images or through a 3D, 300-degree-angle tour.
The exhibition was a group effort of nearly 40 U.S. and Puerto Rico-based artists, and was created to challenge and acknowledge the work and identity of Latinx-American artists.
By putting the spotlight on these artists — and their collaborative efforts for the project — the museum hoped to illustrate how multiculturalism plays a role in the cultures celebrated by Latinx people in America.
Laura-Caroline de Lara, interim director of the museum, spoke more on the importance of multiculturalism to the exhibition:
“Nationalities for so many of these communities are diverse, and are also a conversation around what is American, what is not… So many of these artists are living between cultures that for us it made sense to problematize that a little bit and diversify the conversation,” de Lara told New City Art.
Multiculturalism plays a significant role in the Latin-American diaspora. The museum utilizes the term “Latinx,” but wishes to promote the identities of other Hispanic or Latinx artists too.
Candida Alvarez, an artist whose work appears in LatinXAmerican, pointed out that she wishes for indigenous and Afro-Latinas/os to not get lost in the discussion. Alvarez’ work, "Son So & So," appeared in the exhibition.
The museum’s website explains that not all artists who worked on LatinXAmerican self-identify as Latinx, “some prefer national, racial, and/or ethnic designations of identity. DPAM respects and supports all forms of self-identification.”
The exhibition was organized by DPAM Director and Chief Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
Widholm acted in this role from 2015 until 2021, leaving to become the director of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
After Widholm’s departure, the museum’s staff largely took over organizing the exhibition’s display.
In 2020, the DePaul Art Museum began discussions and cemented plans to curate better Latinx representation and participation within the museum’s programming and collections.
These discussions led to the focus on Latinx exhibitions, later coming to fruition as LatinXAmerican. DPAM hopes their efforts will support the presence of Latinx artists and voices in museums nationwide.
“Our hope is that initiatives like ours at DePaul Art Museum will become commonplace, rather than newsworthy,” Widholm explained, regarding the museum’s Latinx Initiative.
The DePaul Art Museum lays out its Latinx Initiative on its website.
LatinXAmerican is an art exhibition with no shortage of cultural representation, but descriptions can only go so far — the exhibition’s virtual portal, in addition to a list of the involved artists, can be found here.
Online versions of an array of DePaul Art Museum’s materials may be found here. The LatinXAmerican exhibition is available in Chicago for in-person viewing until Aug. 15.