Eiteljorg Museum

Indianapolis, IN




Americanos: Latino Life in the United States

January 22 through April 16, 2000


Americanos. Latino Life in the United States, on exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis in January, 2000 presents a self-portrait of the country's largest-growing ethnic group. The bilingual exhibition's 120 photographs by 30 of the nation's top photojournalists explore the breadth and variety of the American Latino experience - families, children and youth, labor, community, the arts. And the message comes through loud and clear: Hispanics don't fit a stereotype.

Close your eyes and picture a person of Latino descent. What do you see? A teacher? A doctor? A politician? A baseball player? An astronaut? A mother? A neighbor? A friend? According to the latest census, about 11 percent of the U.S. population was Hispanic in 1990. By 2050, Hispanics are projected to make up a quarter of the population, thus becoming the largest minority group in the United States.

So it shouldn't be surprising that the photos in this exhibition are of people from all walks of life and from the many cultures that fall under the terms "Latino" and "Hispanic" - Chicano, Central American, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Bolivian, Argentinean, Colombian, Panamanian, Brazilian, Dominican, Asian Latino and Anglo Latino.

The exhibition, a project of OImos Productions (led by actor and photographer Edward James Olmos), was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. (Olmos is scheduled to be at the Eiteljorg for the exhibition's opening.) It is the Smithsonian's first close look at Latino life.

But it's not the Eiteljorg Museum's first Latino-related exhibition. It follows Birds and Beasts of Ancient Latin America; Working Class Heroes: Images from the Popular Culture by Luis Jiménez; and Cuando Hablan Los Santos: Contemporary Santero Traditions from Northern New Mexico in 1997.

"Although the Eiteljorg is best known for exhibitions about Native America and the American West, it presents the art, history and culture of the many peoples who make this country their home," said Tricia O'Connor, exhibit developer. "Hispanics and Latinos have been involved in the building of what is now America since well before the 15th century, and in fact, part of what is now the United States was part of Mexico and Spain."

The museum's location also makes it a natural stop for this exhibition. Indianapolis is home to a growing population of Hispanics. Between 1990 and 1998, the Hispanic population in Marion County, in which Indianapolis is located, grew almost 41 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Other experts consider those numbers conservative.

Thus, it's fitting that the local community will be included in the Indianapolis presentation of this national traveling exhibition. Nuestra Ciudad will be a display of photographs taken by photographers at The Indianapolis Star newspaper of the city's Hispanic community, along with statistics provided by the Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis Polls Center. IUPUI's Cultural Arts Gallery, within walking distance of the Eiteljorg, will present Somos un pueblo (We are a community), a photographic exhibition of the local Latino population organized by IUPUI students.

Cultural interpreters from Indianapolis will be in the Eiteljorg to share their own personal experiences. They will echo the words of Carlos Fuentes in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue, "Recognize yourselves in he or she who are not like you or me."

Americanos: Latino Life in the United States, a project of Olmos Productions, has been organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. The exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of Time Warner Inc. and U S WEST. Additional support has been provided by Farmers Insurance.

Images from top to bottom: Sofia Gonzales has sold Mexican brooms in front of her home in East Los Angeles for almost 20 years. Photographer: Genaro Molina, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA; Rabbi Michael Azose leads a congregation of 150 Sephardic Jewish families of Hispanic descent. Photographer: Antonio Perez, Cicero, IL; Jose Montoya, artist and founder of the Rebel Chicano Art Front. Photographer: Jose Luis Villegas, Sacramento, CA; Police officer Lisa Demetriou and her son at the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Photographer: Rita Rivera, New York, NY; Humerto Rodriguez flies a helicopter for search-and-rescue missions. Photographer: Paul Perez, Yuma, AZ; First communion day. Photographer: Antonio Perez, Chicago, IL

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