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  • Shawn Gilliam

In Conversation with the Curator: Unexpected Realizations on ReVisión

Curator Valéria Piccoli shares insights she’s gathered since the opening of ReVisión: Art in the Americas.

Between lectures, walk-throughs, and the catalog and other written materials, Mia Guides were fairly well-equipped for touring ReVisión: Art in the Americas. But, of course, we always want to learn more. It’s not unlike what Valéria Piccoli, the Ken and Linda Cutler Chair of the Arts of the Americas and curator of Latin American Art at Mia, has experienced from visitors. “I really love going into the galleries and getting a glimpse of the reaction of the audience,” she says. “What I find really interesting is that, although I felt from the beginning that this was an exhibition that was really heavy on text and information, the audience always wants more detail, more context. It’s interesting to see there is a lot of curiosity about other cultures, so [providing more information] is something we can explore further in other exhibitons about Latin American art.”

Along with this realization, Piccoli has experienced a few other learnings since the exhibit opened in July. Here are the ones that rise to the top, in her words.

Thoughts after experiencing the works first-hand

“In the beginning, I didn’t know the works in person, because they are mostly part of the Denver Art Museum collection. I just had a checklist with images. But a few of the works impressed me so much more when I saw them in person, and I would say that the drawings by Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë, the Yanomami artist, were some of them. After seeing them and hearing about what the curators at Denver had to say about them, they became some of my favorite works in the exhibition. Something that surprised me was the role they have in the memory of the Yanomami people. Then the works really became something different in my mind. Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë is an artist who is becoming very famous very quickly, so I was a little suspicious about that. But this work is really beautiful and really important.

hisiriki; kashausi; kashihiwe; kohorarawe; pariki husepari; shaririwe II; tipikiwe; uwauwami; shaririwe, 2019 by Sheroanawë Hakihiiwë/Galería ABRA. Denver Art Museum. Oil-based ink on Hanji mulberry paper. Purchased with funds from the Ralph L. and Florence R. Burgess Trust, 2021.116.1–9 Photo: Maryam Marne Zafar

The other work where my opinion changed during the exhibition is the work by Sandy Rodriguez. After doing some research, I found out she fabricates her materials—so she does the paper and she does the paints and everything is really manufactured by her. It’s really beautiful how she makes the map look like something ancient and historical, but she’s actually talking about contemporary history, so the way she makes the techniques something contemporary is really beautiful. I was also very surprised about the visual impact with the shadows of the helicopters.”

Mapa de los Child Detention Centers, Family Separation, and other Atrocities from the Codex Rodriguez-Mondragon [Map of the Child Detention Centers, Family Separation, y otras atrocidades del Codex Rodriguez-Mondragon], 2018, and Three Calavera Copters [Tres Calavera Cópteros], 2018 by Sandy Rodriquez. Acrylic paint on Plexiglass. Lent by the artist. Photo: Maryam Marne Zafar

The addition of Mia works

“There are dialogues between works [from the Denver Art Museum and Mia] where I was not very sure how they would work when I proposed them. I thought that they would work, but really I think some of them were integrated in such a way—like the Rufino Tamayo painting—that look so wonderful with the works from Denver. I also think the Sebastião Salgado photographs were a very important addition to the exhibition. They reinforce in such an important way the exploitation of resources in the Americas. Including them brings the other works together, and I think the section would be much less visually compelling if those photographs weren’t there.”

The Family [La familia], 1936 by Rufino Tamayo, 1899-1991. Oil on Canvas. Gift of Norma and William Copley, 60.4 Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Serra Pelada Gold Mine [Mina de oro de Serra Pelada], 1986 by Sebastião Salgado, born 1944.. Gelatin Silver Prints. Gift of Mary and Bob Morsky, 2020.96.35 and Gift of Funds from the Regis Foundation, 2005.98.1 Credit: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Mia Guides

“I have to say I’m very impressed about the engagement of the guides and how dedicated they are. They study, always have questions, and want to know more. It’s beautiful to see how engaged they are with the exhibition and with Mia. I’m impressed with that.”

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