This past Saturday, I went with a couple of friends to check out an art exhibit in one of my favorite museums in Washington, the Art Museum of the Americas. Called Ñew York, it features the works of outstanding Latin American and Spanish artists residing in New York City.
The exhibit addresses mobility in an era of widespread displacement where barriers between the global and the local are broken down. Motion (mobility), emotion (personal artistic work) and promotion (promoting and advancing the careers of expat artists) are all addressed throughout the collection.
Here are some of the highlights of my afternoon in the museum:
The Real Story of Superheroes, 2005-2010
In The Real Story of the Superheroes, the Mexican artist Dulce Pinzón uses the concept of hero, which has been widely used at a time when the figure of the hero appears in the form of real people who perform extraordinary achievements, as opposed to sacrifices of those who pass unnoticed.
It is a fun and clever exhibit that reminds me of an Almodovar movie. It’s a twist of comparison of Latin immigrants in NYC, using their superpowers while living and working nonstop to support their family overseas.
Ái Spik Ínglish, 2005
If you had to learn another language, perhaps you would have experienced the frustrating feeling of sounding out the same letters that you know and recognize in a completely different manner. Maybe you glance at the English word “raid” and end up saying “ra-ah-ee-d” or “hey-idee” or some other incorrect phonetic variation.
At the Art Museum of the Americas, Guatemalan artist, Jessica Lagunas depicted the frustration and drive it takes for Latinos to correctly pronounce words in English. For example, in order to properly write the sentence “Change the Sheets”, she wrote “Chéinch da shílts”; “I need help” becomes “Ái níd jélp”. The frustration is obvious, but the drive not so much– I think that the creativity to listen to common sentences, write them out phonetically with the Spanish alphabet, then commit the expressions to memory, points to the motivation of Latinos in the US. This is of course a first step, and following oral retention, the mastery of correct spelling should come soon. So next time you hear a mispronounced word in English from a foreigner, don’t laugh– think about the struggle it takes to properly learn a foreign language.
The exhibit closes on May 20, 2012.