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Colombian artists visit Emerson in LA, Boston

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Artists and faculty from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin visited Emerson Los Angeles on March 5, and will visit Emerson College in Boston on March 16. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

A group of nine young, emerging artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín presented their artwork at Emerson College Los Angeles on March 5 during a 10-day tour of the United States.

The students visited the United States as part of Proyecto Boston Medellín, a multimedia transnational exhibition produced and hosted by students, faculty, and staff at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín and Emerson College in Boston. As part of the tour, the artists also exhibited their work in Honolulu, Hawaii, and planned to visit Emerson College in Boston from March 16-19.

Marko“Through visual art, these young people realize they have something important to say,” said Senior Lecturer Tamera Marko of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department, who is founder and director of PBM. “To create art and awareness at the same time is the highest goal of any artist.”

Over the past six years, 19 artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia have exhibited their photography, sculptures, animation, videos, and more in the U.S. through PBM. For the nine Colombian artists participating in this year's program, the tour was their first time visiting the U.S. 

“I never thought I’d come here and leave my country,” said Camila Florez Quintero, who grew up in a barrio in Colombia and was raised by a single mother. “It’s been a real pleasure to have the experience.”

Quintero’s art focuses on workers, particularly women. She takes photos of Afro-Colombian women workers, some who live without running water or lights.

Tania Camila Ausecha’s art uses machetes to demonstrate how indigenous materials are being lost while Nataly Marin Quiceno creates art based on her experience of being kidnapped by a guerilla group when she was 5 years old. Sharing the inspiration behind her art was emotional for Quiceno.

“Many times our stories are not valued,” said Quiceno. “We dream of being artists, but not of being famous or rich.”

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Camila Florez Quintero, an artist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia who visited Emerson Los Angeles. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

ELA Founding Director Kevin Bright ’76 was moved by the presentation and stories that the artists shared.

“Your stories are so important because you didn’t overcome something small to get here,” said Bright, who felt compelled to ask some of the artists to leave photos to hang in the ELA conference room.

The artists presented their work to Bright, students, and other special guests. Through the presentation, Marko says that she hopes the artists will be able to shift the flow of how stories are told.

“It’s so valuable for these artists to know that there are people on the other side of the mountain who care,” said Marko.

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Tamera Marko teaches a lesson with students from Universidad Nacional de Colombia at Emerson Los Angeles. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

PBM is part of a larger initiative called Mobility Movilidad, which aims to create the multimedia, translingual writing necessary for the work of artists, researchers, and storytellers to cross borders. The initiative focuses on artists and researchers with the least access to circulate their work across borders. Emerson students collaborate with the artists through videoconferencing and other social media channels to produce an exhibit for translingual audiences in Boston. In 2014, PBM won the inaugural Spirit of Emerson Award at Emerson College. The group has also received support from Emerson’s Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement.

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A sample of the artwork from the Colombian artists who visited Emerson Los Angeles. (Photo by Daryl Paranada)

At the end of the presentation, Bright told the artists that he was moved by their stories and impressed by their art.

“It’s a great honor to support you in the projects that you’re doing,” said Bright. “I hope with this little taste of America you’ll come back and see us in the future.”