- October 4, 2018 – January 6, 2019
- Contemporary at Blue Star x For Freedoms: 50 State Initiative
Featuring Adriana Corral
Adriana Corral’s Unearthed: Desenterrado illustrates the complex history between the United States and Mexico. The billboard image erected on Contemporary at Blue Star’s roof depicts a white flag embroidered with an illustration of a “Mexican” golden eagle and an “American” bald eagle with claws engaged, each emblematic of their respective nation’s patriotism. The 60-foot flagpole hoisting a large-scale white, cotton flag was originally part of an outdoor, site-specific artwork, located on the historic grounds of the Rio Vista Farm in Socorro, Texas.
Corral focuses on Rio Vista Farm’s history as a point of entry for the Bracero Program. Off the heels of the Great Depression and entering the Second World War, the U.S. was left with a massive void in agriculture production and railroad maintenance. During 1942-1964, the U.S. federal government established one of the largest foreign worker programs instated in U.S. history with Mexico, under the name of the “Bracero Program”, which means manual labor. The Rio Vista Center was a processing facility to approximately 80,000 Mexican workers per year who underwent medical and psychological examinations. In addition, these men were fumigated with DDT prior to being relocated to one of 30 states involved in the program. Around 4.6 million bracero contracts were processed over a 22-year period. After learning about this history more in-depth through research and rapport with Sehila Mota Casper from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Dr. David Romo, Corral felt an urgency to create a site-specific piece.
Prior to learning about the Rio Vista Farm, Corral attended the Contemporary at Blue Star Berlin Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanian in Berlin, Germany. There she conducted intensive fieldwork in the labor/concentration camps throughout Germany and Poland. At Ravensbrück and Auschwitz, she collected soil samples, paint chips, and other architectural remnants to evaluate various methods in which medicine, architecture, and design have coalesced for the purpose of controlling and oppressing people.
This work brings to surface an often-overlooked part of American history that we see resemblances to in both historic and current events. Unearthed: Desenterrado continues Corral’s investigations into injustice and human rights and by presenting the work beyond its site-specific installation these issues reach new communities and contexts. Contemporary at Blue Star presents this billboard iteration of Unearthed: Desenterrado as a participant of For Freedoms: 50 State Initiative.
Adriana Corral’s installations, performances, and sculptures embody universal themes of loss, human rights violations, memory, and erased historical narratives. Her practice is rigorous and research-based, most recently bringing her to work directly within archives. Experts ranging from historians, librarians, anthropologists, writers, journalists, gender scholars, human rights attorneys, and the victim’s families provide Corral with vital data that aid in the conception of her works.
Corral received her MFA from The University of Texas at Austin and completed her BFA at The University of Texas at El Paso. She was invited to attend the 106th session of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland (2015), was selected for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant (2016) and named Artists to Watch 18 exceptional new talents by Modern Painters (2017). Corral attended the McDowell Residency (2014), the Contemporary at Blue Star Berlin Residency Program at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany (2016), the International Artist-in-Residence at Artpace (2016), a fellow at Black Cube, a Nomadic Art Museum (2017), and is most recently a fellow at the Archives of American Art and History at the Smithsonian Institution (2018). Her work will be included in upcoming exhibitions at the McNay Art Museum and MASS MoCA.
About For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative
This project is part of For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative, a non-partisan, nationwide campaign to use art as a means of inspiring civic participation in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. For Freedoms was founded by artists in 2016 as a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action in the United States. Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms uses art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that citizenship in American society is dependent on participation, not ideology.
The artwork included in this exhibition share For Freedoms conviction that people shape the cultural systems that shape their lives—from politics to art, from advertising to civic life. We believe that citizenship is defined by the creative use of one’s voice, one’s body, one’s mind, and, ultimately, one’s vote.
The 50 State Initiative is the largest creative collaboration in the history of this country, and we want everyone to get involved. For Freedoms’ 200+ institutional partners are bringing together artists and community leaders across the country through exhibitions and town hall meetings, and public billboard projects. These collective activities inject creativity, critical thinking, and lift a multiplicity of voices into our public conversation. Together, we can blur the line between artistic and political discourse, and create an open, nuanced national dialogue in a partisan climate. To learn more, visit www.forfreedoms.org.
Join us. #ForFreedoms. For us all.