Collaboration promotes Latin American art and design

Three Charlotte visual art institutions have begun an initiative to support Latin American art and design while making themselves more inviting to Latin American communities.

Latin American Contemporary Art Projects (LaCa), the Mint Museum and McColl Center for Visual Art will collaborate for Perspectives on Latin American Art & Design (PLAAD), an open-ended, amorphous effort.

LaCa Gallery Director Neely Verano said PLAAD “will offer a series of educational and social events in Charlotte to build awareness, appreciation, and support around Latin American Contemporary art and design.”

This effort is timely – Charlotte’s Latin American population has been growing.

But apart from a few events, the programs this initiative promises aren’t planned.

One exception is Con A de Arte, an annual presentation of Latin American culture by ArtSí, which will be June 13 at Mint Museum Uptown. ArtSí is a grassroots effort to advance Latino arts and culture. Presented by the Mint and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the event highlights work by Latino artists while hosting displays and performances.

The museum will also open a bilingual exhibition, “Connecting the World: Panama Canal at 100,” an exploration of the American-led engineering project completed in 1914. Running Nov. 1-Feb. 1, the exhibition will host the paintings of American artists who drew inspiration from and documented the canal’s construction.

Cheryl Palmer, director of learning and engagement at the Mint, will continue the museum’s collaboration with Latino groups, begun with the museum’s Latino Initiative, funded by Duke Energy. The initiative included the museum’s first bilingual exhibitions, “F.O.O.D. (Food, Objects, Objectives, Design)” and “ Sociales: Débora Arango Arrives Today” in 2013.

LaCa will continue the exhibition programming it has had since opening in March 2013, with a mission to promote Latin American art and culture throughout the United States. Their impact is noticeable because of the shock of color they give to a cultural landscape dominated by white and African-American arts initiatives. Exhibitions like “Rufino Tamayo: Mujeres” and “Cuba: Art of the Fantastic,” have proven the richness of visual art currently emerging from Latin America.

This fall, LaCa plans to host a fashion exhibition with pieces by couture designer Luis Machicao, a Peruvian native who lives in Charlotte. A panel discussion will be held to consider the role of fashion as a globally influential art form, as well as the evolution of fashion in Latin America.

The McColl Center’s role in the initiative was to host Abelardo Mena, who curated LaCa Projects current exhibition, “Cuba: Art of the Fantastic.” Mena met with the center’s last group of artists in residence, which offered, said spokesperson Bek Mitchell-Kidd, “an important opportunity for insights from a highly regarded curator as well as a professional networking opportunity.”

While PLAAD lacks planned programming, Verano said the collaboration seeks to increase engagement by the Latin American community at cultural organizations by providing greater access, to broaden perspectives through educational programming and to promote stronger understanding of Latin American contemporary art.