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“Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960- Present” opens across Santa Barbara

Views 8 | Time to read: 2 minutes | Uploaded: 10 - 4 - 2017 | By: Carolyn Deal


Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960-Present” opened this past weekend, focusing on Guatemalan art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Rarely seen outside of Guatemala, the first ever in-depth study of Guatemalan art centers around formal, political, and social concerns of the people.

The exhibit is part of the Getty’s fall initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, which brings together different aspects of Latin American and Latino art from ancient civilizations to the present day in several museums throughout Southern California. Santa Barbara is hosting the Guatemalan art, which tells the history of Guatemala from the 1960’s forward. There have been political, infrastructural, and economic barriers that have previously prevented the study of Guatemalan art, which speaks to the importance of hosting the exhibit.

In total, there are over 70 works in different medias split between the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop, and Westmont’s own Ridley-Tree Museum of Art.
The art is organized into nine clusters of central themes, and highlights different artists who connect each theme. “Art and Politics” contains art describing different artists’ perspectives on the 36 year Guatemalan Civil War and its aftermath. “Land, Landscape, Territory” studies the complex relationship between people, land, and political battle over territory. “Popular Culture” uncovers the vernacular of the common man and the tense relationship between indigenous and ladino citizens. “Racism and Identity” ties into the preceding theme while also analyzing the clashing cultures of the indigenous and ladinos. “Religion/Spirituality/Metaphysics” focuses on the transition from Mayan cosmology, to Catholicism, to--most recently--Evangelical Protestantism. “Gender Perspectives” looks at gender rights and activism through new media and regimes. “Violence and Trauma” digs deeper into the civil war, and even as far back as the Spanish conquests. “Art Histories” tells the stories of underground and obscure Guatemalan artists separate from mainstream culture. “Formal Experimentation” probes cutting-edge Guatemalan art styles such as geometricism and abstract sculptures.

A large portion of the artists come from the younger generation following the 1996 Guatemalan Civil War Peace Accords, due to the increase of freedom young artists have now.

Westmont hosted a reception on Saturday, Sept. 16 celebrating the opening of this landmark exhibit. Co-curated by Emiliano Valdes and Miki Garcia, “Guatemala from 33,000 km” runs from now until Dec. 17. Admission is free to all venues, and donations are always accepted.


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