Chicano Now Overview
Chicano Now: American Expressions – Exhibition Overview
Hosted by the Milwaukee Public Museum, Chicano Now: American Expressions, a 5,000-square-foot interactive multimedia exhibition opens Saturday, February 3, 2007. Produced in collaboration with actor/entertainer and art collector Cheech Marin, the exhibition weaves tradition, history and humor into an expression of the lives and rich contributions of Chicanos.
Presented by Target, sponsored by Hewlett-Packard Company and produced by Evergreen Exhibitions, the exhibition is comprised of original video performances, original murals, musical performances and a wide array of hands-on displays. Comedy troupe Culture Clash, Paul Rodríguez, George López, Gustavo Vazquez, Guillermo Gómez Peña, Lourdes Portillo and Robert Rodríguez are just a few of the names of nationally recognized comedians, musicians, filmmakers and artists that contributed to the energy and spirit of this multi-media exhibition.
Chicano Now: American Expressions explodes stereotypes and inspires appreciation of Chicano artistic, scholastic and cultural achievements by inviting visitors to celebrate the often-overlooked Chicano contributions to mainstream America. The sections of this unprecedented presentation include:
The Border – A line drawn in many ways, the border is both physical and psychological. It is a 2,100-mile long line between the U.S. and Mexico, a line that some can cross freely while others risk their lives to cross. This very same line is also a place where minds, money and culture merge; it is a state of mind. It is here where visitors will be greeted by Culture Clash via video presentation and will begin their journey through a wide array of Chicano expressions.
Family – “La familia” is without question the heart of the Chicano culture. Solid bonds, not only with parents but grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, allow for a sense of unity that many believe to be representative of the culture. Deeply embedded family values, some of which include honoring the dead, are what keep the heritage alive and strong. In this section of the exhibit, visitors will have the privilege of experiencing an interactive photo album containing original family photos of Vietnam Veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor Hero, Roy Benavidez, and seeing the story of his life via a narration by his children. It is also in the family section that visitors will participate in hands-on activities to learn of various foods, as it often plays a central role in many family occasions. By opening a pot on the stove, visitors will learn of menudo and by sliding a rolling pin, will learn about tortillas.
Work – People from all walks of life comprise the Chicano culture. From agricultural worker to astronaut, Chicanos have obtained success at all levels and have in turn made several significant contributions to our society. By entering a walk-in theater, visitors of the exhibit will have the opportunity to learn of some of these contributions by viewing images of people at work. Interactive sliding panels and colorful graphic panels allow visitors to learn more about who they are and what they do.
Style – Self-expression is displayed in a variety of ways, and it can take a political, spiritual, literary, musical and/or fashionable form. Video presentations by film director Robert Rodríguez and Culture Clash comprise a portion of this distinct and entertaining section. Here visitors will enter a street scene with a bookstore and an appliance store. Visitors will also experience the fun and excitement of lowriders. Visitors can ride in an original lowrider simulator, custom-designed for Chicano Now by artist Magu, with Cheech Marin as their passenger. And they can operate two other interactive lowrider models.
Music – Whether it be a traditional Spanish love song, a cumbia, salsa, merengue or an “oldie but goodie,” music plays an important role in the lives of Chicanos. At home, in the car, at a family gathering, at a wedding or even at a funeral, music touches souls. Visitors will experience the music of this culture by sitting at a café table and making a selection on a jukebox containing some of what could be considered Chicanos’ greatest musical hits. This includes a rendition of La Bamba that combines the original, contemporary and heavy metal versions all into one!
Who am I? – When it comes to describing Mexican American identity, finding an all-encompassing term can often be a challenge. Chicano, American, Mexican, Mexican-American, Latino and Hispanic, these are just some of the terms that people may or may not choose to identify with. Defining identity is largely dependent on one’s own experiences and philosophy. By entering a walk-in video theater, visitors learn of the complexity of the Chicano identity. It is not merely defined by one’s heritage but rather, it is a heart-felt state of mind.
OTC (Other Than Chicano) – Here visitors explore the influence of Chicano expressions in the larger mainstream culture, as well as the influences from the mainstream on the Chicano community. In a series of unusual vignettes, performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña offers his view of Chicano influences and identity. Children can enter a one-of-a-kind lowrider style rocketship. Culture Clash returns with a highly entertaining and illuminating original large-screen video presentation.
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Source: Evergreen Exhibitions