The exhibition Carlos Rolón: Outside/In, featuring the work of Puerto Rican artist Carlos Rolón, will be on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art March 16 through August 26 of 2018. Carlos Rolón is internationally recognized for paintings, sculptures and installations that break down walls. Rolón’s project for NOMA explores the rich connections between New Orleans, Latin America and the Caribbean, from their shared tropical landscape to the intricate wrought iron fences—rejas in Spanish—that define the architecture of both places.
Working with materials such as shattered glass, wrought iron fences, and construction cinderblocks, Rolón takes these barriers to access and transforms them into new points of entry, creating intricate constructions that connect indoors to outdoors, private to public, and local to global. Through artworks that draw upon popular culture, craft and art history, the show examines the nature of identity, integration and aspiration in immigrant and diasporic communities across the globe.
“Carlos Rolón’s exhibition highlights New Orleans’ cultural ties to communities across Latin America and the Caribbean, and especially Puerto Rico,” says Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “In light of the recent devastation of Hurricane Maria, these shared connections have only become even more important to emphasize and affirm.”
A continuation of a project begun in 2016 at the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, Outside/In combines an exuberant tropical flora and fauna with installations composed of fences and fragmented mirrors that offer opportunities for self-reflection and community engagement. Incorporating elements such as ironwork, tropical vegetation, and mosaic benches, Rolón creates an immersive experience that transforms NOMA’s galleries into spaces for community gathering and conversation.
“From that which often divides us, Rolón creates spaces of connection and collectivity, breaking down barriers and building new relationships in communities across New Orleans as well the broader world,” says Katie Pfohl, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at NOMA.
A featured component of the exhibition will be Rolón’s installation Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), which is inspired, in part, by the prevalence of street vendors throughout New Orleans and the Caribbean. In keeping with the exhibition’s investment in breaking down institutional barriers and building new community relationships, this project speaks to themes of class, commerce, immigration and survival. The activations will reflect facets of New Orleans culture that are unique to this city and relate to its identity as a cultural and geographic crossroads, transforming the gallery into a space for dialogue, gathering and exchange. These activations will include displays by local artisans, language meet-ups and cross-cultural exchanges, and projects by artists and creative collectives in the city.
“As a first generation immigrant of Puerto Rican descent, my work is deeply personal and autobiographical,” says Carlos Rolón. “At the same time, my hope is that this exhibition provides all audiences, regardless of their cultural backgrounds, an opportunity to reflect on questions of identity, community and home.”
As part of the exhibition, NOMA is partnering with Embajada, a contemporary art organization located in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to help support arts programming in Puerto Rico and offer direct assistance to local artists, cultural workers and their communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Carlos Rolón: Outside/In will be presented with bilingual exhibition content in both English and Spanish.
The installation Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman) will be activated by local arts and community organizations at selected intervals throughout the run of the exhibition. Partners in this initiative include Nuestra Voz, AspenX New Orleans, Good Children Gallery, The Front Gallery, artist Katrina Andry with NOMA Teen Squad, Puentes New Orleans, Material Life Shop and more.
Additional related programs will include curator-led noontime talks, gallery tours, artist perspectives, and performances by Taco Truck Theater / Teatro Sin Fronteras, led by award-winning performance artist José Torres-Tama, which challenge anti-immigrant hysteria and explore the human stories of people in search of the “American Dream.”
Carlos Rolón: Outside/In will be accompanied by a catalogue that features essays by NOMA’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Katie A. Pfohl, the Perez Art Museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art Maria Elena Ortiz, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce’s Associate Curator of European Art, Pablo Pérez d’Ors, an interview of Carlos Rolón by NOMA’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow for Modern and Contemporary Art Allison Young, as well as short essays by artist Theaster Gates and NOMA Curatorial Fellow Lucia Momoh.
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