El Corazon Me Dió Un Salto: A Queer Raza Exhibition
Sunday, June 4, 1995 - Saturday, July 29, 1995
Organized through a model of collective organizing and inter-generational dialogue, this exhibition featured the work of emerging Queer Raza. It included an artist’s salon and installation work, an archives segment compiled by David Contreras and Luis de la Garza, and a catalog featuring essays by Daniel Contreras and Dolissa Medina.
The education committee.
El Corazon Me Dio un Salto: A Queer Raza exhibition
by Nao Bustamante and Eugene Rodriguez
In choosing the title for this exhibition, we wanted something that would function on many levels, as metaphor, poetry, and of course as something descriptive of our experience—at times shocking, at times breathtaking—as bi/lesbian/gay/trans. “el Corazon me dio un salto” (my heart skipped a beat) reminded us of the first time we kissed, had the desired sex, “coming out” to la Raza, and getting back our test results. In the (Re)Generation dialogue we wanted to underscore the lyrical title with “a Queer Raza Exhibition” to sum up all those included; Chicano/a and Latino/a. We also couldn’t remember seeing those two words, Queer and Raza, together. We thought that it would spark conversation about who we think we are and how we identify at the intersection of sexuality, gender, and ethnicity.
We view the exhibit not only for its aesthetics and content, but also for its historical and educational aspects. There seemed to be distinct groupings for the visual arts; the body erotic, the spiritual self, coming out, what Queer means in the 90s, and AIDS. In organizing the exhibit, we decided to include a significant amount of archival material. Thanks to Luis de la Garza’s efforts we are fortunate to display a hands-on archival installation, illuminating the past and giving the exhibit a context. Yes, we have past! The Education Committee is extending its hand through the illusionary veil that separates us from the community and the Writers’ Committee puts this entire (Re)Generation process into perspective.
The (Re)Generation coordinators collectively decided to work with Judy Baca, a mentor in our community to conceptualize the Bryant Street Billboard/Mural. In dialogue we became aware of the many complex phrases involving multiple identities from this emerging generation. Through an act of self-expression, we developed an invitation to enter our terrain.
Pues, welcome to a Queer Raza exhibition. Together we are making history as the first Queer focused exhibit sponsored by the Galeria. From where we stand, we mark this point to move forward.
From the Education Committee
In the wake of proposition 187 and with the recent cuts into the affirmative actions system, our youth of today are faced with many educational obstacles. The educational system in California is being critically targeted as one of the nation’s worst with the lowest scores academically across the U.S. Against this backdrop Chicano-a/Latino-a youth must now excel to the highest level to achieve any comparable career or profession.
In this third exhibition by the (re)generation project the education component is critical to chicano-a/latino-a youth who are questioning their personal and collective identities –especially the issues of sexual preference. Educational support for these issues is important to our youth but also to assist educators, administration, and staff serving Raza youth. Art and culture are vital to complete education and can help to improve understanding for these critical topics. we must strengthen relationships at all levels to develop better communication.
Homosexuality in the Chicano– a/Latino–a culture is very much suppressed and within the family, the community and the school it is rarely acknowledge. It is at the same time something that we may know about, but something that we do not discuss at the table. Therefore emotions become hidden and most importantly never discussed openly. Art expresses the hidden codes and languages that can bring this agenda to the table. For the Latino who is ridiculed because of his lack of being an athlete – and for the teacher who pushes this boy to the point of tears and depression – the heart skips a beat. For the Latina who has a crush on her best friend – the heart skips a beat .
With outreach from the Education Committee, we the (Re)Generation Project open the doors to homosexuality in our culture and in our communities. It is also the hope of the Education Committee to create partnerships among gay and lesbian communities and organizations.
The Education Committee will conduct docent tours, outreach, and a curriculum to help visitors explore their encounter at the Galeria de la Raza. We must stimulate visitors to create their own encounters with these objects and ideals. Often the learning experience is a moment of reflection or a chance discovery that moves a visitor in a lasting way. No matter what the visitor’s relationship with the art object, there is the potential for learning, for expanding horizons. We cannot operate any longer in isolation as gays and lesbians in a world with communities ever changing and shifting.
We appreciate the value of knowing our past, engaged in our present, and determined to our future.