September 12, 2019 | Gloria Muñoz
Latinx Artists Explore Culture
Through the Senses in Arroz con Frijoles
On view through September 19
University of South Florida Tampa campus
Walking into the Arroz con Frijoles exhibition in USF’s Carolyn Wilson Gallery offers a sense of homecoming. There is music, colorful screen-printed wallpaper, a replica of a kitchen busy with the knickknacks of everyday. From the hung curtains that frame the exhibit’s title to the mixed media corn husk installation, the exhibit offers a textural and sensory exploration of Latinx culture.
Featuring six undergraduate multidisciplinary artists of different backgrounds, Arroz con Frijoles presents a unique and inclusive look into cultural identity.
“We are all family and we had family helping us put this together,” artist Alejandro Gómez explains while pointing out the curtains his mom sewed for the show. A Cuban-American, Gómez’s art in the exhibit centers around migration. The young artist works with paper and textiles to create vehicles of passage via sea and air.
Artist Elizabeth Arias installed wallpaper featuring potatoes, a food and commodity that’s culturally important to her Peruvian background. The show also includes a series of photographs she took when visiting her father’s neighborhood in Peru.
Arias and Gómez shared that the six artists met in a course and decided to put the show together out of their own desire to work together. “As migrants we all have a different story to tell but we can relate to each other,” says Arias.
The show is completely collaborative and student-run. When considering the inspiration for the exhibit and the powerful community that can form among immigrants and the children of immigrants, Gómez explains: “we all come from different backgrounds and we have our own experiences. At the same time we’re all together, here. We made it happen.”
Despite the current anti-hispanic rhetoric, Latinx hospitality is the beating heart of Arroz con Frijoles. When considering the dialogue sparked by the show, Gómez says, “It’s about just letting people into our home, saying here is our art, hear our music, taste our food.”
The artists will welcome audience members of all kinds into their home by serving dishes that are meaningful to their cultures at the show’s opening reception on Friday, September 13 from 7-9 pm.
The exhibit is on view through September 19,
Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 3 pm.