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Upcoming DePaul Art Museum exhibition highlights 1980s artists’ campaign against US intervention in Central America

‘Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities’ opens March 23

CHICAGO — The 1980s activist campaign “Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America,” which sought to educate North Americans and protest U.S. military interventions, will be the focus of DePaul Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition “Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities.” The exhibition, on loan from Tufts University Art Galleries (TUAG), opens March 23, 2023, and will be on view through Aug. 6, 2023.

Growing out of the friendships, solidarity networks, and political organizing amongst artists and activists, the ‘80s campaign resulted in exhibitions, performances, poetry readings, film screenings, concerts, and other cultural and educational events in over 27 cities across Canada and the United States, including Chicago. The exhibition features more than 100 artists, including original participants and contemporary artists whose work was inspired by the campaign.

“This exhibition prompts us to consider our global relationships and responsibilities as artists, cultural workers, students and activists while shedding light on a little-known portion of our Chicago history. Our associated lectures, screenings and other programs at DePaul Art Museum will reflect contemporary dialogues on these topics while expanding the voices represented in the conversation,” says Laura-Caroline de Lara, director of the museum.

The exhibition highlights Artists Call’s history through a selection of activities and works from the 31 exhibitions and over 1,100 artists who participated in New York City. It references Artists Call’s legacy today in new forms of inter-American solidarity networks and visual alliances.

Major works by original campaign organizers and participants include those by artists Josely Carvalho, Jimmie Durham, Louise Lawler, Dona Ann McAdams, Ana Mendieta, Claes Oldenburg, Martha Rosler, Juan Sánchez, Nancy Spero and Zarina.

Among the highlights of the exhibition:

  • The reconstruction of Hans Haacke’s original installation “U.S. Isolation Box, Grenada, 1983.” The artwork recreates the boxlike isolation chambers that American troops used to detain prisoners at the Point Salines Airport following the U.S. invasion of Grenada.

  • An expansive collection of Latin American Mail Art, originally exhibited “Solidarity Art by Mail” as part of Artists Call, including contributions by Clemente Padin and Edgardo Antonio Vigo. Contemporary works include a wall-sized installation by Carlos Motta as part of his ongoing series, “Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America Since 1946.”

  • The original version of “Reconstruction Codex” (1984) by Sabra Moore and 19 collaborators, including Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Virginia Jaramillo, Nancy Spero and Jaune Quick-To-See Smith. The work reconstructs one of the few surviving Mayan codices as a means of paying homage to the ancient Indigenous cultures of Latin America and drawing parallels between historic and contemporary political events in Central America.

  • Artist Beatriz Cortez’s life-sized time capsule that collapses different artistic and political trajectories to examine ideas of resilience, solidarity and creative freedom will be on view, as will artist Naeem Mohaiemen’s film that focuses on Artists Call participant Judy Blum and her relationships with the effort as well as artists and collaborators Krishna Reddy and Zarina.
This exhibition is organized by Tufts University Art Galleries (TUAG) and curated by Erina Duganne, associate professor of Art History, Texas State University and Abigail Satinsky, TUAG curator & head of public engagement. A fully illustrated, bilingual English-Spanish catalogue, co-published by Inventory Press & Tufts University Art Galleries, is available on the Inventory Press website. The catalogue features essays by artists and the exhibition curators as well as interviews with exhibition organizers.

Major support for the exhibition and catalogue was provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA).

Public programs include a panel with current Central American humanitarian activists, a Salvadorian Film Screening and a conversation with one of the curators of the exhibition. A list of public programs will be available on the DePaul Art Museum website in the coming weeks.


Media Contact:
Russell Dorn