Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Art Contemporary Art
Ph.D. Columbia University
Follow on Twitter: @tatianaeflores
I am a modernist art historian committed to expanding the boundaries of modern and contemporary art history beyond mainstream models from Europe and the United States and to promoting the work of women artists. My first book, Mexico’s Revolutionary Avant-Gardes, investigates two related avant-garde movements that pondered the nature and function of modern art in post-revolutionary Mexico. Estridentismo (“Stridentism”) attempted to project Mexico into the international arena in the 1920s and advocated a global model of modernism in a country that was only beginning to embrace the concept of nationhood. Its offshoot ¡30-30! argued that avant-gardism needed to adopt an ethical dimension. Through them I challenge familiar tropes about post-revolutionary Mexican art—as an expression of national identity and specific political tendencies, as spearheaded by a select group of mural painters, as characterized by an overarching social realist style—to propose a novel reading that considers the Mexican avant-garde in a global context, defines its local idiosyncrasies, and recuperates the dynamism of an extraordinary decade.
My second book project in progress, Art and Visual Culture under Chávez examines visual production and cultural policy in Venezuela from 1998 to the present day as they have been developing under the controversial government of President Hugo Chávez, whose populist social movement known as the “Bolivarian Revolution” has polarized the country. Though in Venezuelan politics it is almost impossible to remain neutral, being a Venezuelan-American gives me an insider/outsider perspective that allows me to maintain a degree of critical distance from the object of my study. I was awarded the Cisneros fellowship at the Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University (2007-2008) in support of this research as well as a faculty fellowship from the Center of Cultural Analysis at Rutgers (2011-2012).
Curating exhibitions has been an integral part of my scholarly output for over ten years, as I staunchly believe that to be an effective historian of contemporary art, one must actively engage in the construction of the historical archive of the present. As curator at Latincollector Art Center (2001-2003), I was in charge of planning the exhibitions calendar and overseeing all the stages of exhibition production. These early experiences taught me the immense value of learning from living artists. I went on to curate national and international exhibitions exploring contemporary uses of artistic media, including painting in More Is Moreand installation in Space, Unlimited and Medios y ambientes, as well as regional approaches to contemporary art through two Caribbean themed exhibitions, Wrestling with the Image and Disillusions.
One of my guiding interests is historiography. Because my primary fields of Latin American and contemporary art are works in progress, I am very conscious of the ways in which they are being constructed. In my engagement with contemporary art, I underscore the methodological challenges involved in making sense of the art of the present. My historical research on Latin American art contests canonical accounts, acknowledges the significant gaps in our knowledge, and advocates for rigorous analysis of archival and primary sources. My work is also deeply informed by theoretical approaches, such as feminism, post-structuralism, and post-colonialism, that stem from an interdisciplinary and multicultural background.
My current undergraduate courses run the gamut from the introductory art history survey and “Introduction to Contemporary Art” to lecture classes on various topics in Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean art to such seminars in modern and contemporary art as “Art Now” and “Global Avant-Garde Movements of the Twentieth Century.” For the survey, with over one hundred students, I strive to be a dynamic lecturer who generates excitement and interest about the topics so as to encourage the students to pursue further study in art history. In smaller courses, I look for ways of sparking debates and animated conversations, perhaps by introducing controversial images or calling attention to divergent interpretations of a particular object. In the majors-only seminars, such as “Art Now” or “Approaches to Art History,” I include field trips to galleries and museums, and conversations with artists and curators to address practical concerns related to professionalization.
Modern Latin American Art
Contemporary Latin American Art
Art and Visual Culture of the Caribbean
Mexican and Mexican-American Art
Introduction to Contemporary Art
Introduction to Art History
Approaches to Art History
Art Now (seminar)
Global Avant-Garde Movements of the Twentieth Century (seminar)
Mexico’s Revolutionary Avant-Gardes: From Estridentismo to ¡30-30! . New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.
Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions (with Christopher Cozier). Washington, D.C.: Art Museum of the Americas, 2011.
Disillusions: Gendered Visions of the Caribbean and its Diasporas. Edison, NJ: Middlesex County College Studio Theater Gallery, 2011.
More Is More: Maximalist Tendencies in Recent American Painting. Tallahassee, FL: FSU Museum of Art, 2007.
Rubens Gerchman: Four Decades. New York: Latincollector Art Center, 2002.
“Murales Estridentes: Tensions and Affinities between Estridentismo and Early Muralism” in Mexican Muralism: A Critical History, eds. Alejandro Anreus, Robin A. Greeley, and Leonard Folgarait. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2012, 108-124.
“Actual No. 1, or Manuel Maples Arce’s Fourteen Points” for Vanguardia Estridentista: Soporte de la estética posrevolucionaria. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2010, 31-80.
“Lola and Germán Cueto: Two Paths to Modernism in Post-Revolutionary Mexico” in Codo a codo: Parejas de artistas en México, ed. Dina Comisarenco Mirkin. Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, forthcoming 2013.