Galeria de la Raza
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Andando Lejos
3/12/1996 - 4/27/1996
Curated by Claudia Bernardi, this exhibition presented Tamoanchan (Medardo Alfaro, Artemio Rodriguez, Victor Cartagena, Reinaldo Zavalo, Ricardo Portillo, Carlos Cartagena, Carmelo Zavala, Martivon Galindo, Fidelina Aguilar Peña, Benedicto Zavala, and Manuel De Paz), an artist group that encompasses the community of political refugees and survivors of torture from Latin America.
  Galería Exhibitions Sueños Prometidos <1996>
Andando Lejos <1996>
Undocumented Passage: Stories of Migration <1996>
Go Unnoticed: Images of (Re)generation <1996>
Beyond Boundaries: Recent Work by Enrique Chagoya <1996>
Orígenes: Día de los Muertos <1996>
Bazaar Navideño <1996>
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Curatorial Statement

We named ourselves TAMOANCHAN. It is a Nahuatl voice that means: “The land where the Gods left us the corn.” TAMOANCHAN is our way to envision the future, our commitment to a new beginning and our always present sense of camaraderie and friendship while we work in our art.

When we first started our workshops in 1990, we addressed ourselves as political refugees choosing art as a vehicle of restoration of our lives and as a way to inform of our personal histories. Indeed, there was much to tell about what brought us here. We all come from countries in Latin America where violations of Human Rights are the common practice of our government’s politics. The war in El Salvador. The indigenous struggle in Guatemala. The “desaparecidos” in Argentina. The long list of peoples in exodus with the only hope of survival. The memories of abuses and the pain of violence. The people left behind and those who are gone forever and whom we will never see again. These are the reasons that brought us here. “Después de mucho guindar por el mundo” we met here, in this pocket of geography and circumstances of history.

Interestingly, we seldom speak about the sadness of our memories. We say that we share a solidarity in our silence because, the most important fact of our life, is that we are here. We are creative, we are subversively happy. Whoever designed the effective systems of repression in our homelands did not manage to kill our spirit. Our art is our deepest revenge, our way to say that we are “presente,” our way to maintain our dignity.

We have grown over the years, as friends and as artists. We have presented our art as an offering to this community where we now live. We have been accepted and welcomed as artists in the Bay Area. Our greatest accomplishment is that our identity is no longer that of “political refugees.” We have earned the acknowledgment of being artists and contributors to this society that we all share. This is the TAMOANCHAN, the place where we find the elements to start again. Like the “material prima” of the alchemist, we transform our sadness in hope.

And here we are, Andando lejos…, there are days when the nostalgia take us far away, to the villages in El Salvador, to the milpas in Guatemala, to the stories we heard of people suffering. Other times we replenish ourselves with memories of our grandmothers, strong and wonderful women matriarchs of our families that interpreted for us the world and the lessons to learn on it. We also recall smells, food, textures, los comales, los mercados, the landscapes of a Latin America that continues to resist with the strongest weapons: love and determination. This is how we work in our art. We filter our life through memories kept in the tips of our fingers. The rest is quite uncomplicated. Images land on our work with fluidity and, frequently, they surprise us. I believe we have learned by now that life surprises us more than what we can anticipate and a lot of our creative process is about translating who we are and how we live, what do we stand for, what makes us happy and what discourages us.

Andando lejos… we continue the passages we started in our countries. We have started families and friendships. We love and forgive. We still get angry at the injustices we see around us and the arrival of the dangerous monster of discrimination. We would like to prevent the violence we saw in our homelands. We would like to believe that it is possible not to make the same mistakes.

Andando lejos… we laugh a lot, we immensely enjoy working together. We feel blessed by the opportunity to share our creative process. We trust one another. We influence one another and in this process we are reminded that we share a spiritual aspect of our life in our art. When we talk about TAMOANCHAN we believe that the true present the Gods left us is our creativity and the always stubborn determination of our persistence of hope.

Claudia Bernardi
March 1996