Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons Featured on Campus and at the Frist

María Magdalena Campos-Pons

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, one of the most significant artists to emerge from the Cuban post-revolutionary era, will lead a conversation about race in her native country on Wednesday, October 12, at 5:30 p.m. in Cohen Hall 203. Joining Campos-Pons in a panel discussion entitled Exile, Memory and Identity: A Conversation about Race in Cuba are Vivien Fryd, chair and professor of history of art; Jane Landers, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History and acting director of the Center for Latin American Studies; and William Luis, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Spanish.

Immediately following the panel discussion, there will be an opening reception for Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: MAMA/RECIPROCAL ENERGY, the first exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist’s drawings. Campos-Pons, a visiting artist on campus October 9-18, has created five large-scale, mixed-media drawings as a means of exploring themes central to her art—issues of identity, exile and displacement as an Afro-Cuban artist living in America.

Also featured in the exhibition are drawings that address specific performances the artist has presented over the course of her career, one of which is a collaborative work she created with her son. This later body of work is the artist’s attempt at “putting the [performances] in a memory box [in order to create] the essence of the moment.” In addition to the drawings, there will be a three-channel video work that examines questions surrounding the nature of energy from an intriguing perspective.

Born and raised in the Cuban province of Matanzas, Campos-Pons was educated in Cuba at the National School of Art (1976-1979) and Instituto Superior de Arte (1980-1985). She graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in 1988 and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband, Neil Leonard, who is a composer and performing artist, and their son.

The panel discussion and the exhibition, on display in the Fine Arts Gallery from October 12 through December 8, are part of a collaboration of numerous events sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, Department of Art, Department of History of Art, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, Program in African American and Diaspora Studies, College of Arts and Science, the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Atlantic World Seminar, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Campos-Pons will debut a new performance art piece at the Frist Center on Friday, October 14, at 6:00 p.m. Using her body, voice, and surrounding space, she will expand on the ideas about dislocation explored in the accompanying exhibition of her work, Journeys, in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery at the Frist Center. The notion of journey refers to the artist’s own place within the African Diaspora as a woman of Nigerian ancestry. On Monday, October 17, Campos-Pons will participate in a performance event on campus with Vanderbilt students from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

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