"Art in Action,” the weeklong campus visit of artist and activist Melanie Cervantes, will feature lunch and informal conversation with the artist April 18 at 12:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of Rockefeller Hall, and a public talk at 4:40 p.m. the same day in 120 Physical Sciences Building. The lunch will also include a tour of the “We See You/Witness Project” and artwork by Yasmín Hernández, B.F.A.’97, that is installed at the Latina/o Studies Program.
Cervantes co-founded Dignidad Rebelde, a graphic arts collaboration, with Jesus Barraza in 2007. Dignidad Rebelde produces screen prints, political posters and multimedia projects grounded in developing nations and indigenous movements. As part of the Freedom Interrupted Witness Project at Cornell, a display of Dignidad Rebelde posters has been on view at the Latina/o Studies Program office since the fall.
“The artwork builds on people’s power to transform the conditions of fragmentation, displacement and loss of culture that result from histories of colonialism, genocide and exploitation,” Cervantes writes. “Dignidad Rebelde’s purpose is to translate the stories of struggle and resistance into artwork that can be put back into the hands of the communities who inspire it. We believe that art can be an empowering reflection of community struggles, dreams and visions.”
Adds Ella Diaz, assistant professor of English and Latina/o studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, “The relation between word and image in our visual world of signs and symbols are powerful tools for people to intervene on the status quo. Dignidad Rebelde continues in a tradition of protest art and is of the 21st century, as they not only make fine art but immediately offer downloadable posters to people and communities in the midst of mourning, of struggle and resistance.”
Cervantes has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, and the Mexic-Arte and Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in Austin, Texas. Her work is in the public collections of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the Latin American Collection of the Green Library at Stanford University and the Library of Congress, and in various private collections throughout the U.S. She has a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Her visit is sponsored by the Latina/o Studies Program with support from the Cornell Mellon Diversity Seminar; American Studies Program; Department of History of Art; Africana Studies; Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies; American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program; Department of Art and the Freedom Interrupted Series.
This story also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.