Critics often bristle when they encounter identity-based museum shows in our increasingly global society. Meanwhile, artists regularly feel slighted by the ugly veneer of tokenism when they’re invited to group shows with ethnic themes that focus on so-called African-American art, Asian art, or Latino art, placing those artists outside the mainstream contemporary art world. But “Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art,” an exhibit opening Wednesday at the Frost Art Museum (10975 SW 17th St., Miami), is more about inclusion and is intended to present a broader picture of an evolving national culture that challenges expectations of what is meant by “American” and “Latino,” according to the show’s creators. Organized by E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the provocative and engaging exhibition seeks to investigate the rich and varied contributions of Hispanic artists in the United States since the mid-20th Century and boasts 85 works, in every conceivable media, by 64 leading modern and contemporary artists. It explores how participant artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture. It features an eclectic array of styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual, and performance art; and classic American genres such as landscape, portraiture, and scenes of everyday life reflective of the Latino influence on our national culture. The sprawling survey includes artists of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Dominican descent, as well as other Latin American groups with deep roots in the United States, whose works transcend race-based categorization. The premiere runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Call 305-348-2890 or visit thefrost.fiu.edu.
April 2-June 22, 2014