July 14, 2000


Smithsonian Latino Virtual Gallery Opens With Online Photographic Exhibition

The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives recently opened its Latino Virtual Gallery —latino.si.edu/virtual-gallery— featuring the online exhibition "Revealing Personal Identity: The Indigenous Vision of Manuel Carrillo." "Revealing Personal Identity" is an exhibition about photography presented from a literary and artistic perspective. It brings Carrillo's own identity quest to life through the interpretation of his photographs.

"Conceiving and designing exhibitions in cyberspace presents different challenges than working on physical space," explains Magdalena Mieri, the center's associate director for outreach, research and educational resources. "It demands a different set of parameters, knowledge, and language. It forces us to think about access to technology, the `digital divide,' and the issues of images, their context and their use."

The Latino Virtual Gallery will feature three exhibitions every year, always driven by Latino histories, arts and cultures.

"The goal of the gallery is to provide Latino interpretations to collections related to U.S. history and culture," says Refugio Rochín, director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. "It will approach Latino contributions to Ame-rica's history, arts and culture from a Latino perspective."

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Special Collections Department of the Library at the University of Texas at El Paso and the center. Melissa Carrillo, an artist and a graduate from UT El Paso, was the exhibition curator and designer.

The virtual gallery will draw from new scholarship by inviting guest curators to develop exhibitions. It will also form partnerships with other Smithsonian units, as well as with Latino museums and cultural institutions.

The gallery's next exhibition, scheduled to be online in the fall, is "The Magical Essence of Antonio and Juan." It will show how Puerto Rican fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez and his partner and mentor, Juan Ramos, influenced the world of fashion illustration and design during the 1960s, `70s and `80s. The exhibition is a partnership with Hispanic Design Inc. and the Antonio Lopez Foundation.

That online exhibit will be followed by "Charros and Vaqueros," which will feature objects from the Smithsonian collections in the National Museum of American History.

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