|Cultural antrophologist Ricardo Alegría, Puerto Rican historian Teodoro Vidal, plastic artist Pepón Osorio, physician Antonia Novello and artist Chita Rivera are five Puertorricans among the distinguished latinos like Ellen Ochoa, Rebecca Lobo and labor leader Dolores Huerta, included in the photographic exhibition “Nuestros Caminos/Nuestras Historias: Retratos del Logro Latino” that will open April 7, and continues through June 25, in Sala de las Artes at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.
“Nuestros Caminos/Nuestras Historias: Retratos del Logro Latino” presents narratives of 25 individuals and one extended family that tell a much larger story about the influences—from family members to public figures-that made them who they are today. The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives and organized like itinerant by the Servicio de Exposiciones Itinerantes de Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.
“This exhibition is an anthology of compelling biographical portraits that evoke the depth and breadth of Latino contributions to American society,” says Luben Montoya, interim director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. “There will be well-known names in the exhibit as well as people who may not be as famous, but whose inspirational stories need to be told.”
Among the exhibition’s portraits are composer and orchestra director Tania León, public servant Alfred Rascon and Dr. Juan Romagoza. A biographical narrative that includes excerpts from recent oral history interviews complements their portraits. For example, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina tells how he became fascinated with science. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson describes the event that led him to pursue a life of public service.
The exhibition includes personal stories, photos, oral histories and dichos, or traditional sayings. The influential dichos pass knowledge, experience and values down through the generations. They include such sayings as ?Sí, se puede! (We can do it!); Si no sabes de dónde vienes, no sabes a dónde irás (If you don’t know where you are coming from, you don’t know where you are going); Si vale la pena hacerlo, vale la pena hacerlo bien (If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it well); and El que algo quiere, algo le cuesta (No pain, no gain).
“These stories celebrate what’s at the heart of so many Latino success stories-a desire to achieve and make a difference,” said Sandra Ulsh, president of Ford Motor Company Fund. “Visitors to this Smithsonian exhibit will have the opportunity to learn about Latinos who have made varying but very important contributions to the American fabric.”
A seven-member advisory committee that included historians, curators and people known for their work in the U.S. Latino community, selected the men and women featured in the exhibition. Their stories combine to provide an inspirational, illustrated anthology of Latino accomplishments across generations.
Ricardo Viera, a consultant on Latino and Caribbean contemporary art and photography, challenged three of today’s most exciting photographers to create the 25 portraits. Through color photographs, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Héctor Méndez-Caratini and Luis Mallo reveal their subjects’ character within the context of his or her own “place.”
Nicolás Kanellos, the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Literature at the University of Houston and director of a national Hispanic literary research program, wrote the exhibit’s introduction. Kanellos also is founding publisher of the journal The Americas Review and of the publishing company Arte Público Press.
“This exhibition is more than a collection of individual photos and stories, more than a gallery of heroes and heroines, past and present. It is a collective narrative of the multiple ways we have succeeded by contributing to our communities, to the nation, to mankind,” Kanellos says. “They inspire all of us to pursue excellence, not for fame or recognition, but moved by our desire, as Latinos and as Americans, to leave this world a better place than we found it.”
The mission of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives is to foster understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture using the vast resources of the Smithsonian’s collections, research and public programs, both in Washington and across the United States.
The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu