El Museo del Barrio opens "Estamos Bien - La Trienal 20/21"

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El Museo del Barrio opens "Estamos Bien - La Trienal 20/21"
Installation view, Estamos Bien.

NEW YORK.- El Museo del Barrio, the first and leading museum in the country dedicated to preserving and presenting Latino art and culture, revealed the exhibition highlights for Estamos Bien - La Trienal 20/21, the Museum’s first large-scale national survey of Latinx art. Curated by El Museo del Barrio’s Chief Curator, Rodrigo Moura, Curator Susanna V. Temkin, and Guest Curator and Artist Elia Alba, the exhibition is on view to the public from March 13 to September 26.

Following two years of research and studio visits by the curatorial team, Estamos Bien features the works of 42 Latinx artists and collectives from across the United States and Puerto Rico. Originally scheduled to coincide with the 2020 U.S. Census and the presidential election, La Trienal opens in El Museo’s galleries one year after the museum first closed due to the pandemic with works that reflect the current moment.

The exhibition centers on an intersectional approach to the concept of Latinx—the much-contested term that departs from binary understandings of U.S.-Latino identity through the adoption of the gender-neutral suffix X, distancing itself from rigid definitions to allow a nuanced, more inclusive understanding of identity. In Estamos Bien, Latinx serves as a meeting point rather than a singular definition, as the artists participating in the show represent diverse generations, genders, ethnic and racial backgrounds, foregrounding Indigeneity, African and non-European heritages; gender nonconformity; and other multiplicities.

“Presenting a major survey of Latinx art today is not only urgent, it is also a great opportunity to continue proving its relevance nationally and globally”, says El Museo del Barrio’s Chief Curator Rodrigo Moura.

The title Estamos Bien is adapted from a painting by Candida Alvarez, the only artist in the show with a previous history with El Museo, dating to the 1970s. By pluralizing the phrase, the title echoes the anthemic song by Bad Bunny and is simultaneously a declaration of defiant resilience and a provocation, conflating a sarcastic and a positive tone. While the words connect with a post-Hurricane Maria framework, they also hold broader applications, particularly within the context of the contemporary moment, with the rise of proto-totalitarian regimes in democracies in the Americas and beyond; the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement which has exposed systemic racism in society and its cultural institutions; and the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to BIPOC populations worldwide.

“While Estamos Bien was already in formation, these concepts have only grown more pressing in light of the global pandemic and its effects on BIPOC communities, as well as this country’s growing recognition of the Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements,” notes Curator Susanna V.Temkin.

Commenting on the significance of the show at this particular moment, Guest Curator and Artist Elia Alba affirmed, “Latinx art doesn’t rely or depend on a binary. It mixes social histories, and spans the color ranges of race. Latinx art, call it a movement, call it a space, challenges us to question the inflexibility of language and systems.”

“We are very proud to support the Estamos Bien La Trienal exhibit at El Museo del Barrio showcasing talented Hispanic and Latin artists, who have created pieces that address important and complex issues such as social justice, climate change and the particular effects of the global pandemic to Hispanic-Latino, Latinx and other BIPOC populations,” said Ileana Musa, Co-Head of International Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. “Celebrating diverse perspectives is a core value at Morgan Stanley, and we are excited to support these emerging artists and their inspiring work.”

“We need to rewrite the cultural history of the United States,” says Executive Director Patrick Charpenel. “This exhibition will serve as an opportunity to continue this important work, further expanding our understanding of cultural legacy, American history, and the art historical canon.”


Lucia Hierro borrows and extracts from the mainstream art historical canon to create objects that reflect on the urban experience and vernacular commodities she encountered growing up in New York City. Her sculptures and installations play with scale, proportion, and humor to both elevate and question our familiarity with commodity culture and its colonialist ties.

Also drawing from commodit culture, for nearly four decades artist Joey Terrill has stood at the forefront of queer Chicano art, pushing the boundaries of form and cultural representation by exploring the confluences of race and sexuality. Since testing HIV-positive in 1989 Terrill’s artistic production has been intimately connected to his identity as both a Chicano HIV-positive gay man and a health educator. He is known for his series of Pop art inspired and rasquache infused still-life paintings in which antiretroviral drugs and consumer products are contrasted in a critique of the pharmaceutical industry that profits from the disease.

The complex colonial underpinnings of our contemporary cities can be seen in Eddie Aparicio’s large-scale rubber paintings. By casting the surfaces of ficus trees from his native Los Angeles––which have strong ties to pre-Historic cultures in Central America and mirror the history of Mexican immigration to the United States––the artist creates a dialogue between past and present. Similarly, artist Patrick Martinez maintains a diverse practice that explores subjects drawn from everyday life, ranging from personalized cakes and neon signs to Pee Chee school notebooks and city walls. His mixed-media landscape paintings, comprising distressed stucco, spray paint, window security bars, vinyl signage, ceramic tile, and neon sign elements, unearth sites of personal, civic and cultural loss. Created during quarantine, his work on view in ESTAMOS BIEN makes direct reference to the global pandemic and its imprint on the cityscape.

Creating a space for denunciation and memory, Carolina Caycedo presents Genealogy of Resistance, a mural in the form of a family tree recognizes environmental activists who have been killed and threatened in recent years all around the world. An ongoing project that adapts to exhibition spaces, the names of the people, along with the place and date of their death or attack, are written in the roots, trunk, and branches of the tree. Similarly using mapping technology, Torn Apart / Separados is a rapidly deployed critical data & visualization intervention in the USA’s 2018 “Zero Tolerance Policy” for asylum seekers at the US Ports of Entry and the humanitarian crisis that has followed.

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