With the Latino/a community in the United States now past the 50 million mark, the spectrum of what it means to be Latino-American has never been broader. To reflect that vast and ever-changing identity, SPAIN arts and culture has teamed up with the National Portrait Gallery to bring us LATINO/US Cotidiano.
Curator Claudi Carreras gathered work from 12 photographers of Latino descent to show a variety of viewpoints on the experience of being Latino in the US. He specifically focused on work that challenged stereotypes and depicted how Latinos interact with US culture.
The result – a book and traveling exhibition – is a glorious hodgepodge of images and ideas now on view at the former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain.
The portraits’ settings range from intimate living room scenes to soap opera production studios. Mundane moments like family dinner counter whimsical memories of a person’s first snow. Work and home life, amusement and loneliness all have a place here, within a broad human experience of place.
I especially enjoyed the collection from Dulce Pinzón, who has her subjects dress in superhero costumes at work. She then describes alongside their portraits the person’s name, job, and how much money they send back to family every month.
Livia Corona’s work also stood out to me, perhaps as much for its curation as its quality. Her intimate portraits appear almost classical. Placed on and around a mantle in the residence-turned-museum, they felt like family treasures.
“Cotidiano” means “everyday life.” What makes this exhibit so extraordinary is that the everyday life shown in these portraits will feel familiar to any American, even while showing how stunningly diverse the population really is.
LATINO/US Cotidiano doesn’t offer a full understanding of the Latino experience in the United States. It isn’t meant to. This exhibit shows us, beautifully, how we’d need 50 million cameras to get the whole picture.
LATINO/US Cotidiano runs through May 12, 2013 at the former Residence of the Ambassadors of Spain, located at 2801 16 th Street NW in Washington, D.C. Nearest Metro stop: Columbia Heights (Green/Yellow lines). For more information, call (202) 728-2334.