Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Article on Martorell Published in Exhibition Journal

I’m thrilled to have written an article for the current issue of Exhibition (Spring 2022), a journal of exhibition theory and practice for museum professionals published by the National Association for Museum Exhibition and the American Alliance of Museums.

My article “Visiting Puerto Rico, Martorell’s Exhibition Grounds,” is about Entretelas: Antonio Martorell y sus amigos (Interfaces: Antonio Martorell and His Friends) exhibition at Museo De Las Americas and was adapted from an article originally posted here on Travesía Artística (October 2021).

I have included some screen shots of the article below. To learn more about the journal, this issue, past issues, and how to subscribe, check out:

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

From Student to Alumni Leadership: AITA

    Something I have yet to write about on this blog is my experience with being on the leadership team of my alumni group, Alumni in the Arts (AITA). Back when I was a student in the Baruch Weissman Arts Administration MA program, which I attended 2018-2020 (wow, how time flies!) I was involved in the student organization, Graduate Arts Administration Network (GAAN). I wrote about that experience here, of being brought into the group, somewhat reluctantly, and ending up becoming the VP, then President. It was a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth, building leadership skills, and cultivating community. By the time I graduated, it felt like a natural progression to join the (then new) alumni group and build on the foundation we had laid and expand it to the broader Baruch network. 

    My partner in crime, as a student and as an alumna, is Anastasia Gudko. She is a bright, energetic person with an infectious enthusiasm for everything she does. If not for Anastasia, I know I would never have gotten involved in GAAN or AITA. Together we have done a lot of  good work for the Baruch community of arts and cultural workers. As volunteers, I will admit that sometimes this work feels underappreciated, but that's why I think it is important to remind ourselves of the value of what we're doing, mark milestones, and celebrate when possible. The last two years have been extra challenging- graduating in the midst of a global pandemic - but we continue to push forward with AITA, building community and paving the way for more alumni in the arts to join in. 

    Below I have included images of some of the events and milestones we have marked with AITA. The current leadership team consists of Alessia DeFrancesco (Graphic Designer), Vi Tagala (Social Media Manager), Hannah Kolb (Student Liaison), Anastasia and myself. 

Potluck Picnic in Central Park, June 2021

Outing to Madison Square Park, 2021

Results from our Virtual Mentorship Week for Arts & Cultural Professionals, collaboration with Executives on Campus 2021

Virtual interactive event we produced in 2020: How the Arts Can Sustain the Momentum to Confront Racism

Invitation for mentors to participate in our mentorship week 2021

Alumni Spotlight social media series featuring alumni who work in arts administration, 2022

Instagram Takeover series featuring "a day in the life" of alumni who work at cultural institutions, 2022

AITA year n review, 2020

AITA year in review 2021

Friday, October 22, 2021

Back in Puerto Rico, Martorell's Exhibit Grounds Me

Last week I had the opportunity to take a short trip to Puerto Rico with my friend, Marie. It was the first time I had been to the island since my trip with Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) to participate in the Community Arts University Without Walls (CAUWW) program in 2015. That's when I started this blog, Travesia Artistica, initially to document my amazing experiences in the two-week program that took us from the campus is InterAmerican University, to arts and cultural sites all over Puerto Rico. Now as the blog lives on six years later, it is only fitting that I write about my brief return to the island I love so much. 

CAUWW was a totally unique program which is no longer offered, so I was extremely lucky to have participated when I did, lead by the indomitable Dr.  Marta Moreno Vega, who has since retired. One of the incredible things my cohort experienced was a day trip to Ponce, in which we managed to do many things, including taking a private tour of renowned Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell's studio. It was a pleasure to meet him and have the opportunity to experience the work of a prolific multidisciplinary artist first hand. 

Coincidentally, upon my 2021 visit to Puerto Rico, I noticed that Museo de las Américas was about to open a new show: Entretelas - Antonio Martorell y sus amigos. In fact, Marie and I were able to go on opening day! I thought this was the perfect thing to post about here, as a full-circle moment, especially because so many events have taken place worldwide and particularly in Puerto Rico since the last time I was there. Martorell's work touches on it all, poetically.

While lovely to behold, Martorell's masterful body of work in Entretelas... reaches for a "state of grace" and recovery after four years of  tragedies caused by "misgovernment, seasonal hurricanes on the Atlantic... the multiplication and mutation of the pandemic virus, the tremors and the earthquakes [which have forced] changes in Puerto Rican daily life." 

The exhibit, starting with portraits painted onto heavy tapestries explores subject matter from family portraits, to those of historical figures, and those who were wrongfully reincarcerated throughout history. Although there are many paintings in the first salon, in typical Martorell style. he takes a left in the second salon presenting a variety of styles and materials, from colorful fibers to wood and even found fallen tree branches from Hurricane Maria's fallout, reminding us of the devastation experienced, and the friends and family members who have been lost.

I was lucky to be able to see Entretelas... first hand and even take some photos which I share with you here. 

Courtyard inside of Museo de las Americas 

On the second floor, facing into the courtyard

Didactic wall panel for Enretelas...

First room of the exhibition. Portraits painted on upholstery fabrics 

Self-portrait of Martorell 

The Mortal Wall

First photo credit by Marie, remainder by Lorie - you can find more photos of this and more exhibits on my IG @lorie.caval

Museo de las Américas is located at Cuartel de Ballajá, Second floor, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Latinx Art curing my pandemic brain-fog

Moving through this pandemic period has been weirder than I originally thought. Not that I knew what to expect. I was going to grad school during the brunt in early 2020 and frankly, staying home alone, writing my MA thesis, attending classes on Zoom, and working remotely was not that hard for me. Graduating on Zoom was not ideal. And of course, I am not even touching on the overall dangers and consequences of the Coronavirus pervading our city, and the world. But for me (and yes, I am an introvert), staying home, watching TV, cooking, painting, meditating, taking long neighborhood walks, and wearing a mask, was absolutely fine. Enjoyable, even. I was actually very productive throughout the entire year of 2020.

And let’s not forget the multitude of BLM-related marches and protests, of which I made it to quite a few in NYC. I even made it to Washington, DC for the historic Commitment March in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which was tremendous. Yes, 2020 was a tough year, but some diamonds were made under the pressure, too.

However, 2021 has been much more challenging for me. I’m no longer a grad student, which is bittersweet. I've been job-searching, but that has been challenging, as cultural organizations have been heavily affected by the pandemic. I moved into a new apartment in early-2021 which was an improvement in many ways. But still a big change; my routine has changed - and coupled with the fact Covid restrictions abound, going to places and doing things I usually like to do has been curbed. I’ve felt a general malaise, I think, because of how long this “reopening of NYC” has been taking. We are still in the midst of a pandemic almost two years later. Life has changed.

While I was unable to go out and visit museums and galleries or the most part, I engaged with art in whatever ways I could. The enormous importance of public art and street art could not have impressed upon me more. Cultural institutions made use of Zoom and other online platforms and I soaked in as much as I could, until I got Zoomed-out. Being interested in Latinx art, I was happy to see that a number of books related to this subject were published recently, and so I’ve been acquiring them one by one. Truth be told, I started reading all, but have not finished any (I’ll blame it on pandemic brain-fog), so I cant review them per se. Nonetheless, I have inadvertently been building a little library of Latinx art and these are all lovely, thoughtful books, I believe will stand the test of time.

Before I go further, I should address the meaning of "Latinx" as it pertains to art, for those who might not be aware of the distinction. According to Aldeide Delgado: 

..."Latinx" is a concept that does not pertain to Latin America, nor does it pretend to define the artistic or social processes in the region. It does however facilitate the inclusion of these debates in the discourse on Latin America and the Latin American diaspora. "Latinx" includes people who have been born, educated or naturalized in the United States... Latinx artists recover shared cultural experiences to reflect on class, migration and identity issues. Latinx art does not define a monolithic identity, nor is it about single story or experience. Rather, this art is marked by various factors of gender, mobility, migratory status, skin color and access to cultural and economic capital. Studying Latinx art involves recognizing the influence of these artists on the history of American art, as well as generating a space for dialogue and discussion about the politics of access and participation of the Latino communities in US society. ("What Is "Latinx"?" Contemporary & AL, 2019.) 

Not so coincidentally, one of the first IRL art exhibits I visited this year was at El Museo del Barrio for Estamos Bien – La Trienal 20/21 – a large-scale survey of Latinx art curated by Rodrigo Moura, Susanna V Temkin, and guest curator Elia Alba. It’s no secret that El Museo is one of my favorite cultural institutions. I even had the opportunity to intern there in 2019. So, returning to the building in person this July felt a bit nostalgic. And I was thrilled to see that they have added on an entirely new, huge gallery to help encompass this expansive exhibition. I don’t fancy myself an art critic, so I’ll save you from my opinions on the particular pieces. But I will instead include some photos I took of the works featured at La Trienal, as well as a few links to articles about the exhibit.* 

I will also post some info about the aforementioned books I’ve acquired about Latinx and BIPOC art, for those who may be interested in bolstering their own libraries: Latinx Art: Artists/Markets/Politics by Arlene DávilaWe Are Here: Visionaries of Color Transforming the Art World, by Jasmin HernandezRaphael Montañez Ortiz; a monograph about founder and first director of El Museo del Barrio; and Estamos Bien: La Trienal 20/21 featuring the work of the 42 participating artists and collectives included in the exhibition. 

Overall if there is one thing I've learned during this pandemic time, it's that is is okay to slow down. I have always been a person who is "overly busy" doing a million things at once, always stacking my time, responsibilities, and appointments. I prided myself on being productive. The pandemic has created space for me to slow down and think, without necessarily fill up every moment with busy-ness. And still somehow certain themes arise - for me, at this time, it's been Latinx art. As a fellow Latinx artist myself, and cultural worker, it sparks joy and inspiration that this category is gaining notability and challenging the traditional art canon. 

 *Articles about Estamos Bien – La Trienal 20/21:

El Museo Looks to Define ‘Latinx Art’ With a Major Survey - NY Times

El Museo’s Triennial Gathers Works That Defy Pervasive Stereotypes Mapped onto Latinx Art - Hyperallergic 

Veering From the Didactic to the Lyrical, El Museo del Barrio’s Worthy New Triennial Defines Latinx Art Through a Common Struggle - ArtNet

All photos by Lorie Caval, taken at El Museo del Barrio, July 2021

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