Latin America is a vast region, stretching from the Caribbean islands and Mexico to the tip of South America, its narratives spanning its pre-Conquest roots through contemporary challenges and struggles. For much of the region, the 20th century marked a time of constant disruptive change to political and social power. The word historias—with its dual meaning of both “histories” and “stories”—evokes the rich cultural histories of Latin America’s diverse populations and the role that storytelling and oral history plays in the transmission of the past.
Latin American art often engages with the search for identity—a search pointed both toward the future, and in forging specific national identities, and back to the past, in remaining faithful to native traditions and indigenous cultures. The artworks in this exhibition engage recorded events in Latin America’s history and the inner narratives they inspire. Some artists take on the history of their people while others forefront personal memory; all are searching for artistic and cultural identity within the wider world. Together, they reveal the art of 20th-century Latin America to be as complex and multifaceted as the historias that inspire it.
Special thanks to Veronika Totos, Ph.D. candidate in the department of History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, for her assistance with this exhibition.