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La Salle University Art Museum opens spring exhibitions
Tony Ortega, La Marcha de Los Desvalidos (March of the Powerless), 2010, screen print 34/50. Collection of La Salle University Art Museum. © 2016 Tony Ortega.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- La Salle University Art Museum presents the exhibitions Border Crossings: Immigration in Contemporary Prints and Paul Valadez: Siempre Latino, on view March 16 through June 9, 2016.

Border Crossings: Immigration in Contemporary Prints
This exhibition features 23 contemporary prints which explore the subject of border crossings, immigration and human migration, with a focus on the U.S.-Mexico border and migration to the U.S. The exhibition includes work by local, national and international artists in a range of print media, including lithographs, screen prints, and linoleum block prints. Important themes highlighted include immigration/migration, border crossings, and borderlands; cultural convergences and the complexities of contemporary American identities; and art as a tool for political solidarity and activism.

The exhibition will be accompanied by public programs for audiences of all ages, and will be supported by an edited volume by the same title to be published sometime in the spring. The book will feature a catalogue of the prints on display, with images and label texts by the artists, as well as 15 short essays by La Salle University faculty, staff, and friends, with the goal of providing a platform for expanded conversations about borders, immigration, and global migration. A preview of the catalogue provides some background about the exhibition.

In the “Curatorial Introduction,” exhibition curator Dr. Klare Scarborough explains that, “While the exhibition is thematically cohesive, the artworks on display present a variety of subjects and viewpoints, some personal, others very political. Some of the prints focus on actual border crossings. Others address cultural fusions and identities, with subject matter rooted in Latino or Chicano experience. Still others are based in public art initiatives, such as murals and posters, and participate in social and political activism. Some prints make strong statements about migration being a human right, reminding us that humans have a long history of migration prior to the enforcement of modern national borders controls. Other prints express solidarity with autonomous communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, and with the right to self-governance in other parts of the world. Finally, some prints are associated with public advocacy campaigns in support of immigrant and human rights.” (Excerpted from the “Curatorial Introduction” of the Border Crossings catalogue)

In the “Foreword,” Dr. Scarborough also notes that the exhibition was planned in response to the widespread interest in immigration and social justice issues. She notes, “Immigration is a subject of great contemporary interest. From debates about illegal immigrants in the United States (U.S.), to news coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis, many people today are having conversations about immigration and about human migration in general. The topic has recently become more politicized, particularly in discussions of international terrorism and national security, and governmental policies regarding the treatment of migrants and refugees. Here at La Salle University, where the Christian Brothers’ concern for social justice permeates many aspects of the educational environment, the subject of immigration is of great interest to many of the faculty, staff, and students, as it touches upon respect for the dignity and human rights of all individuals. Various professors have lectured and published on the topic; and some have organized special topic panel discussions, engaging students and the public alike in analyzing recent events and contemporary issues. In response to this interest, La Salle University Art Museum’s exhibition of Border Crossings: Immigration in Contemporary Prints presents contemporary artworks that explore various aspects of the subject, with the goal of further engaging the La Salle University community as well as our larger public audiences, including significant numbers of preK-12 school groups, in contemporary discussions taking place about immigration. (Excerpted from the “Foreword” of the Border Crossings catalogue).

In the “Preface,” La Salle University President Dr. Colleen Hanync states, “In the spirit of St. Baptist de La Salle, we hope that this exhibition and this publication will encourage public educational discussion about border crossings and immigration, promote intercultural understanding, and further goals towards social justice for all humankind. La Salle University’s mission states that ‘All members of our community are called to maintain a heightened sensitivity to those marginalized within society as they practice civic engagement, provide leadership with a global perspective, and contribute to the common good.’ As our Catholic faith calls us to love and welcome our neighbors, and to serve the common good, we are reminded of those less fortunate, equal in human rights and dignity, who have struggled to achieve a safe and better life, and those who are still struggling today.” (Excerpted from the “Preface” of the Border Crossings catalogue).

Paul Valadez: Siempre Latino
A small complementary exhibition features 15 artworks by Texas-based artist Paul Valadez in various media, including acrylic paintings on wood and paper, woodblock prints, chine collé, and collage. Titles include Cuarteron de mulata, Flying Saucer, Mexicans on the Moon, and the Style 111: Hairstyle Series, to name a few. The exhibition displays the range of artist’s interests and creative expression.
Paul Valadez was born in San Francisco and was raised in the Central Valley of California. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Art at the San Francisco Art Institute, and a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina where, in 2003, he was awarded the Weiss Urban Livability Fellowship. Valadez uses metal, acrylics, text, and mixed media to create a concept of “old signage,” with subtle hints of race, culture and history. His current work is autobiographical with semisatirical social commentary inspired by his childhood memories of growing up in a bi-cultural household. Valadez is a full-time lecturer in the Art Department at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas.

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