Carlos Ortiz-Gallo, “The Dinner Scene” (2020), mixed media (collage, lithography, drawing and watercolor on Rives BFK paper), 35 x 50”
Through collage, mixed media and sculptural objects, I create impression installations of liminal spaces linked to my own migratory journey and socio-economic experience.
Over the past year, an exciting series of exhibitions featuring work by young artists who identify as Latinx have been presented at venues around Kansas City. Titled “La Onda” or The Wave, the exhibits, according to a recent press release, showcase “the rich and varied contributions of Kansas City Latinx artists,” who draw “on a wide variety of experiences to shape the current collective identity.
Led by artists Cesar Lopez and Kiki Serna, the “La Onda” exhibitions bring together the highly diverse practices of a dozen artists to create an autonomous platform for exhibiting, curating and exhibiting.
Over the past year, “La Onda” exhibitions have featured work by members of the group at Curiouser KC (a gallery project located in a shipping container in Strawberry Hill), Beco Gallery, Garcia Squared, Carter Art Center of the Metropolitan Community College, InterUrban ArtHouse and Kiosk Gallery.
While the name “La Onda” originated in Mexico in the 1960s as a multidisciplinary countercultural movement, this group confidently carries the banner of the Latinx generation in the 21st century American Midwest.
According to Lopez, a native of Guatemala, some of the artists were born in the United States, while others are immigrants and children of immigrants. The “La Onda” shows deeply reflect the common challenges of migration and the inextinguishable cultural ties with their vast places of origin, from Texas to South America.
In the following pages, printmaking, sculpture, collage, painting, installation, ceramics, photography and graphic design all serve as powerful narratives of family relationships, place/home, identity and contemporary responses. to otherness.
Kiki Serna and Carlos Ortiz-Gallo poignantly develop their imagery from family photographs. Serna’s elegiac installations and multimedia designs capture the color of his native Mexico while visually inscribing family histories. Alternatively, Ortiz-Gallo casually injects elements of family trauma alongside texts and images found in pop culture suggesting that fragmented memories of migration are also inevitably painful. Rebeka Pech Moguel’s intimate drawings of dwellings remind us that places persist in our hearts and minds as much if not more than faces.
The photographic works of Silvia Abisaab and Ricardo Rosales speak of divergent Latin experiences. We can’t tell from the odd angle of Rosales’ splashing image whether the female figure is descending or rising, but her head is barely above the water. It’s a time of sinking or swimming familiar to anyone who has plunged into an uncertain future. In Abisaab’s rather formal “car-phone portrait”, her yellow dress appears in a layered architectural space that is partially under construction, still unfinished. We can imagine this as the artist’s job of organizing, combining and constructing a sense of self.
Inspired, she says, by crazy quilts, patterns and fungal growth, and intended to “bring a smile to an audience”, Faviola Calymayor’s sculptural panels are bursting with botanical activity and look good enough to eat. Melissa Guadalupe Wolf’s colorful cast sculptures of cattle-hauling tractor-trailers look like toys but point to darker realities: the human victims of cross-border trafficking. In the work of Valentina Trinidade Soria, a showy Chanel handbag with a barbed-wire handle satirizes the inherent contradictions of the “American dream.”
Cesar Lopez, working in a geometric visual language based on maps, globes and flags, reveals how we form identities around colors associated with ideologies, nation states and sports teams.
Chico Sierra reinvents densely illustrated Mesoamerican iconography to create figures and forces of cosmic dimensions. Christopher Gonzalez gives a futuristic look at his graphic/digital design skills with his robotic character “Boy”.
One can detect in the varied iterations of “La Onda” the consistent power and stamina of the wave. Rising and falling or coming and going, the wave grows stronger as it crosses multinational, multicultural and multidisciplinary territories.
Watch for upcoming “La Onda” exhibits at Curiouser KC (August 2022) and the new Mattie Rhodes Art Center building (September 2022), in conjunction with their Day of the Dead event.
Images courtesy of the artists