New art exhibit pays tribute to Africana studies
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 18:09
Internationally renowned Afro-Cuban artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons opened an exhibition of five new multi-media and Polaroid photographic installations at the Tisch Family Gallery in the Aidekman Arts Center yesterday. Director of Galleries and Collections Amy Schlegel organized the show in coordination with the restructuring of the Africana Studies program this fall.
The exhibition, titled “Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: My Mother Told Me,” officially opened on Sept. 5 and will be available for viewing until Dec. 8.
Campos-Pons was chosen both for her strong reputation in the art world and for her work’s relevance to the new Africana studies major and minor, according to Schlegel.
“Every work in this exhibit references the African Diaspora,” she said. Schlegel explained that Campos-Pons’ distinct family history reveals itself in the artist’s work. The same issues discussed in the Africana studies program are present in Campos-Pons’ art, which straddles the line between Latin American and African American identification, Schlegel said.
Campos-Pons has been on the faculty of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for over 20 years. She pursued graduate studies in painting and media arts at the Massachusetts College of Art in 1988 before emigrating permanently from Cuba in 1991.
“It was an interesting opportunity [to exhibit at Tufts],” Campos-Pons said. “I feel it’s groundbreaking.”
This exhibition will aid the gallery in its transition from featuring student and professional work to that of only professional artists, according to Campos-Pons.
“Any chance to be involved with a Boston-based effort to enrich the community, I’m happy to be a part of it,” she said.
Campos-Pons represented Cuba at the 2013 Venice Biennale art exhibition, which opened in late May. Her new exhibit at the Tufts University Art Gallery contains pieces created for the Biennale, along with other installations that have never before been shown in Boston.
Renowned for her large Polaroid photographs and multi-media environments, Campos-Pons creates work that blends the spiritual traditions of her Nigerian/Yoruban, Chinese and Hispanic heritage, according to the Tufts Art Gallery website.
“Campos-Pons has pioneered a distinctive aesthetic melding photography, performance, video, sound and sculpture,” the website says. “Her work has largely addressed autobiographical issues such as her relationship with her mother and with Cuba, motherhood, family, exile and the sugar industry and slave trade in Matanzas, her hometown.”
She has exhibited internationally since 1984. Her work is part of collections at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, among others.
Campos-Pons’ work is currently paired alongside another exhibition called “Cuban Virtualities: New Media Art from the Island,” located in the Koppelman Gallery and Remis Sculpture Court.
This article has been modified from the original. A statement explaining that the new exhibit represented a “transition from featuring student work to that of professional artists” is misleading. The Aidekman Art Gallery, which has shown works from both professional artists and student MFA thesis exhibitions in the past, will now only focus on displays from professional artists.