Alvaro Ibarra: Response to Moody Castro

Dear Ms. Moody-Castro and Participating Artists of YLA 13,

I wish to thank Ms. Moody Castro for her letter and wish to address various points in her rebuttal to my recent critique. There are some objections in Moody Castro’s letter that are incorrect, misinterpretations or a matter of subjective disagreement.

For example, I specifically noted that recent generations of Latino artists moved away from canonized iconography of their Chicano predecessors, including virgins, crosses, altars and candles. Additionally, I take the curator at her word that the photographer Lupita Murillo-Tinnen does not refer to herself as a Chicana. Nevertheless, I stated that her work evokes certain qualities found in the domesticana movement. Similarly, my belief that David “Shek” Vega’s Mexican Standoff was placed in a less-prominent corner of the gallery is completely up for debate. These are critical assessments, not authoritative statements.

But the most significant dispute at hand has to do with the use, usage and usefulness of the term Latino and how it applies (or does not apply) to YLA 13. At no point do I question the legitimacy of the participating artists. Instead, I examine the curator’s insistence on de-emphasizing Latino. Just because common use and usage are problematic does not invalidate the term’s usefulness.

In the absence of recognizing a Latino perspective, history, ethnicity, nationality, or voice, one is left with a group of disparate individuals making art. If that is the case, allow Mexic-Arte to call next year’s exhibition Young Artists 1, and let them display the work of up-and-coming artists regardless of their background.

As a critic, it is my job to pinpoint distinctions in artwork, not in people. However, it is also my job to find unifying themes and patterns, even if they are based in common cultural predicaments or shared cultural premises. I believe Mexic-Arte’s YLA shows do a great service in bringing a multitude of people of all types to negotiate the polemics of Latino art and culture.

I graciously accept Leslie Moody-Castro’s comments, acknowledge our differing perspectives, and look forward to our future interactions. That being said, I stand by every word I wrote.

Alvaro Ibarra

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