NEA grant showcases Chicago’s Latino art

Hull House Postcard

Ceramic artist Jesus Torres creates pottery at Hull-House in the early 1930s. Photo: Wallace Kirkland, UIC, Jane Addams Memorial Collection (select image to download)

The University of Illinois at Chicago has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop a Chicago-centric online collection of Latin American and Latino art.

The $20,000 grant will support the UIC-based Inter-University Program for Latino Research‘s Latino Art Now! Virtual Gallery, which will showcase work by Chicago-based Latin American and Latino artists from the 1930s to the present.

In partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center, the project supports Latin American and Latino art history while providing greater visibility to contemporary art inspired by changing demographics, says the project’s principal investigator, art historian Olga Herrera, who is director of the inter-university program’s Washington, D.C. office.

“Although Latino and Latin American art in the last 10 years have made significant strides, the art production of the Midwest, and in particular Chicago, continue to be conspicuously absent in the U.S. art historical canons, major exhibitions, publications, classrooms and narratives,” said Herrera, author of “Toward the Preservation of a Heritage: Latin American and Latino Art in the Midwestern United States.”

Herrera and fellow project investigator Maria de los Angeles Torres, UIC professor of Latin American and Latino Studies and executive director of the inter-university program, envision that the virtual gallery will function as an interactive educational resource for middle and high school students and teachers.

The project will be introduced next April when the inter-university program and the Smithsonian center host the Latino Art Now! conference in Chicago. The three-day event, partially funded by the Boeing Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, will include a retrospective exhibit of Chicago Latino art, neighborhood arts events and panel discussions.

UIC was among 960 nonprofits nationwide to receive the latest round of 2015 NEA Art Works grants, which were awarded in 13 artistic disciplines.

The Inter-University Program for Latino Research is a national consortium of 25 university-based Latino research centers that aim to promote policy-focused research and advance the Latino intellectual presence in the U.S. Founded in 1983, the group supports research and programs that foster greater understanding of U.S. Latinos in politics, economics, culture, art, history and immigration.

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