The "Being and Belonging: Perspectives in North Carolina" exhibition, hosted by the UNC FedEx Global Education Center, highlights the work of 13 artists of Latin American heritage from across the state.
The exhibition will be on display until Dec. 12 and aims to introduce a greater audience at UNC to a Latin American aesthetic sensibility.
"The idea for the exhibit originated as an effort to introduce the Carolina community to global perspectives in a local setting, and to help cultivate an appreciation for the varieties of Latin American experiences that flourish — often unrecognized — across the state of North Carolina," Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz, executive director and director of undergraduate study for the Institute for the Study of the Americas, said in an email statement.
"Being and Belonging" was organized by UNC Global in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of the Americas, UNC doctoral student Katherine Stein said. The organizers were also supported by several campuses and community entities: Arts Everywhere, the UNC Department of Art and Art History, the UNC Latina/o studies program, curriculum in global studies and the Carolina Latinx Center.
Stein said she is co-organizer of the exhibition alongside Ingrid Smith, who is the interim director of communications and events at UNC Global.
The artists featured in the art exhibit are: Antonio Alanís, Tina Alberni, Adriana Ameigh, Georges Le Chevallier, Gabriela Costas, Alexandre Emmanuel, Lina Fernández Giraldo, Gloribel Irizarry, Leandro Manzo, Peter Marín, Renzo Ortega, Alexander Lee Quiñonez and Tina Vasquez.
Le Chevallier, Marín, Alanís, Ameigh, Costas and Emmanuel shared some of their experiences with The Daily Tar Heel.
Georges Le Chevallier
Le Chevallier is a mixed media painter who is inspired by the practice of Japanese shibui. Much of his work deals primarily with food.
Le Chevallier said he has a multicultural heritage: his mom is from Puerto Rico and his dad is from France. He was born in France, grew up in Puerto Rico and is now based in Garner. Le Chevallier said that being Latinx helps him understand immigrants who migrate to give their families a better future.
“Being Latino inspires me to understand people," Le Chevallier said. "One thing about Latinos is that literally all countries in Latin America, even though they're different countries, are very united. We share the same history, we have the same cultural icons, even though there's a lot of differences, I think we have more similarities than differences.”
Marín was born and raised in Mexico City and is now based in Raleigh.
Marín said that he had a cultural upbringing that dealt with modernity, modern architecture and modern art. His work reflects the visions of Mexico as a modern country, he said.
“I was raised by a father who is an architect, a Mexican architect,” Marín said. “And so the inculcation into traditions, into folklore, into the painting tradition and other arts as they relate to Mexico were something that my dad is responsible for. And so being a painter is a direct result of having been exposed to all these different artistic traditions of Mexico.”
Alanís is a Mexican-American artist based in Durham. Alanís graduated from UNC in 2013.
Alanís said he is interested in using his art to tell a story and expand on what it means to be a Latinx person in the South, incorporating themes of identity, home and belonging.
“What I've noticed is that the media oftentimes will sway the public to determine someone's personality or upbringing based on what, you know, some misconstrued or misinformed ways of who we are as Latinos or Latinx, Hispanic people,” Alanís said. “And I want this experience to inspire other people as well too, regardless of where they are identity-wise, to feel that they have the agency of saying who they are and correcting misinformation, fighting for the truth.”
Ameigh is a Puerto Rican abstract artist based in Raleigh. She works primarily with acrylics and oils with cold wax. The series she is currently working on focuses on exploring heritage and what it means to be a part of a diaspora.
“Letters to the Homeland 3" (2021) is one of her pieces showcased in the exhibition and represents for her a time where she had to make a decision, she said.
“When you move somewhere different than where you're from, you come to an intersection where you're neither from there nor the other place," Ameigh said. “You're kind of somewhere in the middle of the two."
She said being in that position offers a unique perspective on belonging.
"You're incorporating things from where you grew up, as well as places from the new place you're in, if you've been there long enough," she said. "And if you try to move back, you've been gone too long. And if you stay where you are, you'll never be anything other than somebody that moves there from somewhere else. It's just what happens."
Ameigh said that she hopes this exhibit will provide role models for younger Latinx artists.
Costas is an abstract painter from Orán, Salta, in northern Argentina who is now based in Winston-Salem. She mainly works with acrylic, crayons, watercolor pencils and gesso — a white paint mixed with binder-like chalk.
“It's a distinguished opportunity to share the element and expression of my journey from Argentina to North Carolina,” Costas said.
Costas' work focuses on nature, and she said she noticed similar biodiversity between her home in Argentina and North Carolina.
“For Argentina, it's a country of great scenic diversity from glaciers in the south, to the tropic in the north,” Costas said. “So there is a lot of contrast. And I found similar diversity in North Carolina."
Emmanuel is an artist from Olinda, Pernambuco in Brazil, now based in Raleigh. Emmanuel works with oil on canvas and uses spatulas, spoons and even fingers to create the pieces.
“In my work in general, I do describe it as a new impressionism, and this new impressionism is because it's very fast, the way I work... I have to start it and finish, sometimes in a couple of hours," Emmanuel said. "Because I am afraid that enthusiasm of that great moment goes down."
As a whole, Le Chevallier said that the exhibition showcases Latin American artists in a way that combats stereotypes.
“I think it's really important to change that narrative,” Le Chevallier said. “And to put them in a good light. Latino immigrants are really hard-working, and they come here and they take on a lot of jobs and they do positive thing for our communities, and they're not rewarded like they should.”
The "Being and Belonging: Perspectives in North Carolina" exhibit highlights Latinx voices in the community, Ameigh said. She said that each artist brings with them stories that are completely tied and interlaced with their history and heritage.
“We are part of what's here in North Carolina,” Ameigh said.
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