Connecting with heritage from afar: Latin American artists showcase work at London exhibition

An exhibition showcasing Latin American art is set to debunk common stereotypes surrounding not just the art, but the culture itself. 

Colores de Latinoamerica features artists who have deep roots in Latin America

Independent curator Claudia Arana says the Colores de Latinoamerica exhibition also debunks common stereotypes surrounding Latin American culture. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

An exhibition showcasing Latin American art is set to debunk common stereotypes surrounding not just the art, but the culture itself. 

For its 14th run, TD Sunfest's Colores de Latinoamerica exhibition is showcasing six artists based in Canada who have deep roots in five Latin American countries.

"[The exhibition] really opens discussions to who we are," said Claudia Arana, an independent curator from Latin America who worked on the exhibition. 

"The artists do reflect on their Latin American traditions, but because they are here, the outcome is completely different." 

All the artists recognize the heritage and culture they carry in their blood, said Arana, and express through art how they connect to their roots from afar.

Second-generation Latin American artist of Costa Rican and Cuban descent Michelle Peraza is interested in portraying men, particularly those whose ethnicity and socioeconomic status have often excluded them from representation. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

"We live in a country which is so culturally diverse and I think there is no better way to educate people on culture than through the arts," said Alfredo Caxaj, TD Sunfest's artistic director.

Arana said the exhibition also aims to debunk common stereotypes.

"It's very common to think Latin American art and culture is traditional ... from fabrics to general practices," she said. "But, Latin Americans who are here are moving forward and the art is also evolving." 

Originally from Panama, multidisciplinary artist Jacquie Comrie uses vibrant colours as the universal language of emotions. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

This year's exhibition features work from Toronto-based Peruvian artist Andrea Vela Alarcón, multidisciplinary artist Ana Arias, who lives in Montreal but is originally from Venezuela, Jaquie Comrie, a Panamanian multidisciplinary artist and mental health advocate from Toronto, Peruvian artist César Morriss, Michelle Peraza, a second-generation artist from Cuban and Costa Rican descent, and newcomer Enrique Bravo from Venezuela. 

"I think people will leave deeply inspired by the quality of the art we are presenting here," Caxaj said. 

Venezuelan-Canadian artist Ana Arias expresses nostalgia by portraying family members who were close to her as a child in Venezuela. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

He said it's special to him that this exhibition, which he thought would be temporary when it first started, has been able to continue for 14 years.

"The fact that we have this event reflects how the community is changing," Caxaj said.

"25 years ago London was not the community it is right now, where you hear all kind of languages and see all kinds of restaurants that didn't exist before," he added.

The exhibition will be at the TAP Centre for Creativity until Feb. 1, with an opening reception featuring special musical performances on Friday Jan. 24.