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Joey Terrill, Black Jack 8, 2008. Photo: Museo del Barrio
Joey Terrill, Black Jack 8, 2008. Photo: Museo del Barrio

El Museo del Barrio inaugurates the first national Latinx art exhibition in its history

More than forty artists and collectives from the U.S. and Puerto Rico participate in Estamos Bien - La Trienal 20/21, opening March 13 at the legendary New…

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After two years of research and numerous visits to artists' studios around the country, El Museo del Barrio reopens its doors after the pandemic forced cultural institutions to dive into the virtual world. 

And it does it in a big way, with the largest exhibition of national Latinx art in its history, which also has an unequivocal and hopeful message: "Estamos Bien." (We Are Fine).

The exhibition, which is curated by the museum's chief curator Rodrigo Moura, curator Susanna V. Temkin, and artist Elia Alba, was scheduled to coincide with the 2020 Census and the presidential election but will finally open on March 13 in the galleries of El Museo del Barrio and will be on view through September 26. 

With a clear intersectional approach to the concept of "Latinx" that shuns binarisms and aims for a broader approach to identity, Estamos Bien is the largest national show to date. It includes very diverse generations of artists from varied ethnic and racial backgrounds and foregrounds indigenous and African-heritage art. 

"Presenting a major survey of Latinx art today is not only urgent, but a great opportunity to further demonstrate its relevance nationally and globally," Rodrigo Moura said in a statement. 

Likewise, the title of Estamos bien is an adaptation, according to the museum, of a painting by Candida Alvarez, the only artist in the show with a previous history with the institution, in addition to referring us to the anthem sung by Bad Bunny and being a declaration of resistance for all Latinx, and in the context of the fight against the pandemic, for racial justice and democracy. 

Rewriting U.S. Cultural History

The country's art canon and history are in dire need of revision, and El Museo del Barrio has set to work to include both emerging Latinx artists and veterans who are drawing a new future with their work. 

Among them, pop artist Lucía Hierro, who, through a combination of digital media, installations, and painting, addresses ideas of class, exclusion, and privilege with large doses of humor, as well as the links between capitalism and colonialism. 

Or the iconic queer Chicano artist Joey Terrill, who has been at the forefront for four decades, exploring the confluences between race, sexuality, and HIV-Terrill was tested in 1989, and many of his still lifes contain antiretroviral drugs and are a critique of the pharmaceutical industry. 

When the museum had to close last year, Estamos Bien kicked off virtually over the summer with a series of commissioned projects. One of the most prominent was Who Designs Your Race, an interactive project inspired by census language that asked highly controversial questions in U.S. and Mexican surveys, such as how citizens feel about their race or how it should be addressed.

This initiative's results will be translated into large infographics created by various artists and displayed in the museum's galleries.

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