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Paper Traces: Latin American Prints and Drawings Opens
Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Indian Mother, crayon on paper, 1936. Gift of the artist, 1938:187.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- This fall, a new exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art reveals the depth and breadth of the Museum's Latin American collection with approximately 60 prints and drawings of varying media and sizes—nearly all on view for the first time. Running from September 23 to December 31, 2006, Paper Traces: Latin American Prints and Drawings from the Collection at SDMA boasts examples by major artists from all over Latin America, including José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Roberto Matta, José Luis Cuevas, and Antonio M. Frasconi. It also highlights SDMA's new acquisitions, such as Hugo Crosthwaite's Bartolomé and Leonora Carrington's High Priestess.

Paper Traces is the product of a rare and unique partnership between SDMA and the University of California, San Diego. Upon the suggestion of Derrick Cartwright, the Museum's executive director, Roberto Tejada, assistant professor in the Visual Arts Department at UCSD, designed a graduate course around SDMA's collection of Latin American works. Taking place in fall 2005, the course was held alternately at the Museum and the University in order for the students to familiarize themselves with the collection that they would eventually present in an exhibition. After researching individual works in-depth, the seminar participants were able to collectively choose the pieces that would be included in Paper Traces.

"SDMA is very excited to be a part of this novel collaboration with Professor Tejada and his dedicated graduate students," says Cartwright. "Their hard work and enthusiasm were evident as they spent an extended period of time in the Museum analyzing and thinking critically about our collection. We look forward to continuing this exciting approach to exhibitions in order to promote new knowledge within the Museum in years to come."

The prints, drawings, posters, and portfolios displayed range widely over time and reveal the importance of paper as a medium with its own particular historical outline. Beginning with Julio Ruelas in the years prior to Mexico's Revolutionary period (1910–1920) and ending with contemporary Argentina's printmaking collective, the Taller Popular de Serigrafía, the works on view journey over time and geography to include art from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Peru, and Venezuela. They present subject matter common to everyday life in Latin America—national identity, labor, ethnicity, social class, and family—and explore the role of traditional media in depicting these themes.

Through various examples, the exhibition also reveals the lively visual connections between today's artists and their antecedents. A pioneer in the graphic arts, José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913) created woodcut caricatures and satirical verses that commented on Mexican society and were circulated widely in newspapers, pamphlets, and popular broadsides; contemporary artist Artemio Rodríguez (1972– ), dividing his time between Mexico and the United States, pays homage to Posada in the linocut Posada and His Son (2002) as he comments on the print process and its art-historical relevance to the present. Another influential artist, Julio Ruelas (1870–1907), produced disquieting otherworldly Symbolist etchings like The Pilgrim (ca. 1905) for the Mexican literary journal Revista Moderna; many years later, likewise for literary publications in the 1960s, José Luis Cuevas (1934– ) produced grotesque portraits of life on the urban margins.

The legendary Taller de Gráfica Popular (Popular Printmaking Workshop) is represented in the exhibition with an engraving by Leopoldo Méndez (1902–1969), one of its leading members. This post-Revolutionary collective produced politically motivated work that has continued to inspire activist art, including Argentina's present-day Taller Popular de Serigrafía (Popular Silkscreen Workshop). In both cases the nature of this activism has been centered on the conditions of laborers.

SDMA's Latin American collection also reflects the vigor of Mexico's modern art movement, with works by José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974), and Diego Rivera (1886–1957). Rivera is represented with a rare 1930s lithograph, Seated Nude with Raised Arms (Frida Kahlo), a voluptuous rendering of Rivera's wife and artistic associate Frida Kahlo.

Paper Traces: Latin American Prints and Drawings from the Collection at SDMA is organized by the San Diego Museum of Art in collaboration with the Visual Arts Department at the University of California, San Diego. The exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Latin American Arts Committee of the San Diego Museum of Art, the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program, and members of the San Diego Museum of Art.

Major support for the 80th Anniversary at SDMA is provided by Tamara and Kevin Kinsella, Audrey S. Geisel, Wells Fargo Bank, Gordon Brodfuehrer, Mary H. Clark, the office of San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, and the Docent Council of the San Diego Museum of Art.

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