Border Town art gallery ‘The Front Arte Cultura’ raises the voice of artists worldwide – The
One piece, “Braiding a Message of Love” by arts collective from both sides of the US-Mexico border Collectivo XoQUE, invites visitors to write letters of encouragement on shimmering gold stars. Morales noted that “Love is Action” had a significantly high number of interactive pieces adhering to the theme, but inviting viewers to participate in the work is an element that Front Arte Cultura sees throughout its various exhibitions. “Popular artists appreciate having the activation of the public to complete their works.”
Another, “Generico Generacional,” is a splice of authoritative emotion straight from Tijuana-based artist Angelica Omaña. Atop a canvas constructed with a collage of medicine and cigarette cartons are three layers of portraiture: the self-portrait of Omaña, her mother, and her grandmother. The individual elements each play a role in its voice. From the medium to the subjects of the portraits, the finer details brought together lend themselves to the overarching message of Omaña’s anxiety over aging and the detriment of smoking. a nurse in Mexico during the peak of COVID-19, Omaña’s experience has given her a personal and unique perspective on these health concerns.
The partial meaning of “Generico Generacional” may be lost on a viewer who abandons the effort to delve deeper, but Morales believes some of the greatest art takes time to comprehend. “I’ve seen pieces that need no explanation and these are incredible,” he said. “But I also saw various pieces, that once you read the text, it opens your mind with so many ideas and possibilities.”
A contribution to the exhibition “Love is an action”, an idea explored with images in 2020, came from an artist who today faces an environment created by the antonym of love – the Russian-Ukrainian war.
In a series of three photographs, artist Maria Kasvan, formerly based in Kyiv, explored the bonds of “parenthood”. As she had no children in 2020, her closest relationship with motherhood at the time was the bond she had with her pet dog. Kasvan captured that emotion in a photo titled “Love is in the air.” The second photo in the series, “My Friend Enke”, depicts a mother cuddled around her baby surrounded by earth. The third, “See The Sea”, finds its subject in a mother and her daughter vacationing on the island of Dzyrylgatch, a desert island in Ukraine. The two swim naked in the black sea, creating an intimate moment of motherly affection.
Unwittingly, Kasven’s photos also serve as a painful juxtaposition to his current reality. In 2022, the Russian-Ukrainian war forced the artist to flee to neighboring Poland for safety. “It’s very ironic because the message she sends is love,” Morales said of Kasven’s work in the gallery. “Then, a month later, the country is at war and hatred is kind of prevalent in the country.”
Other works in the gallery are almost overflowing with passion, especially in the form of protest. Annabel Turrado’s “Raspado (Abolish ICE)” features a video of a woman shaving a block of ice over corn husks as a commentary on the inhumane practices of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Another installation, “Amino Mujeres,” invites visitors to write anonymous letters to send to women and non-binary people in an act of solidarity. Intertwined not only in “Love Is An Action”, but all of The Front Arte Cultura’s exhibits are the fervor for social justice of many different ethnic identities, from the contributions of indigenous Kumeyaay artists protesting against colonization to local Filipino migrants sharing their immigration experience.
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