After centuries of exclusion, there has recently been a rallying call across the United States for accountability in many institutions, encouraging efforts toward racial equity and inclusiveness. Public education on these issues has also brought to light the barriers to accessing the museum grounds for Latinx art. It’s important to remember that Latinx art is American art, but Latinx artists and art are severely under-represented in galleries and museums across the country. In fact, a 2019 study of the diversity of artists in museums found that in 18 major American art museums, only 2.8% were Latinx.
The Smithsonian Museum, which is one of the most visited museums in the country, has found innovative ways to attract art lovers to experience art exhibits in person. Among the staff at the Smithsonian is the National Art Gallery’s first Latina chief art curator, Karen Vidángos. The Bolivian-American social media specialist has combined her passion for art with her social media background to strengthen the presence of the Latinx community in museum institutions.
As a digital strategist and advocate for Latinx art, Vidángos was inspired by creating her own social media platforms and an online database to share her journey and experience as a Latina working in the field. museum area. She is the proud founder of Latina in museums and The Latinx art collective.
So I never announced it on Twitter but launched the Latinx Art Collective, the first digital collective exclusively for American Latinx artists and their supporters across the country. It is a meeting place between collectors and artists. To rejoin: https://t.co/PxUWuhjisl pic.twitter.com/tFhKfN27TC
– Karen Vidangos (@latinainmuseums) September 22, 2021
Over the past couple of years, digital engagement has proven to reach people beyond a certain community. As the use of digital technology continues to flourish, so does the opportunity to make art accessible, which is often integral to an artist’s growth and success. Vidángos created Latinx Art Collective with the aim of amplifying the work of Latinx artists. It serves as a space where artists can promote themselves and their work, while reaching the largest possible audience online.
Vidángos also hopes to facilitate opportunities for art collectors, curators, educators, gallery owners and others to connect with and support Latinx artists. All members are encouraged to find art and to connect with the artists of the Collective. Members can also show their support by making a Don to help keep the platform running and fund events in the future.
We had the opportunity to talk to Vidángos about everything from her upbringing with immigrant parents and how she was able to find her own path to her passion for the arts and how she uses social media to have a impact. Scroll down to read My Modern Met’s exclusive interview with Vidángos.
How did your art journey start?
Growing up in a music-centric home allowed me to explore my creativity. My parents are immigrants so I was taught to focus my career on a job that would give me stability, but at least outside of that I could sing, dance and write (all of the classes my mom was in. ‘friends). With that as a base (and a bit of youth rebellion abandoning my government and major in politics for studio art), I found the path I was really meant to be on.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from your parents?
The biggest lesson I learned from my parents is how to persevere. They sacrificed a lot to give me and my sister the audacity to dream of a life beyond survival. They didn’t give up when life in this country was turned against them, so neither can I.
Given that you have experience working in social media strategy, it seems appropriate that you are helping the art world in the digital space. Can you share any expertise that you would offer Latinx artists?
Working as a social media strategist in museums taught me a lot about branding and audience building. The question shouldn’t be, “What benefits my brand?” “But” what need does my brand meet the audience I am trying to reach? The goal is not a million followers. The goal is to help Latinx artists across the country increase their visibility in the art world, no matter what stage they are at in their careers or their financial ability to sell themselves. LAC is a complement to the hard work they already do to promote their work and hopefully a far reaching platform to connect with curators, collectors, and anyone interested in Latinx art.
What’s your advice for Latinx artists trying to get portrayed in galleries and museums?
Never underestimate the ability to network with your peers and the arts community. You have to show up at all kinds of events. I know it can be difficult for the introvert ensemble (including me), but it helps you get noticed. You never know who you will meet! It’s important to bond meaningfully and not just go straight to the “important person”. By creating real connections, you will find people who have the same perspective of art as you or who arouse new interests or ideas … and if you arouse the interest of a buyer or a gallery owner, it will be because that they fundamentally believe in the work you create. .
What’s next for you and the Latinx Art Collective?
There is so much work to do! I have so many ideas for the future of LAC, but my goal right now is to strengthen the platform and its community. I want to make sure the needs of artists are met before I expand.
My Modern Met has granted permission to present photos by Karen Vidángos.
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