Guadalajara-Phoenix artist exchange program promotes Latinx arts

"Sister cities" exchange cultural and artistic perspectives in month-long program

A new program aims to connect Latinx artists in up-and-coming art scenes through a residency exchange in the Valley and Guadalajara, Mexico.

The program, called GDL > PHX Residencias Artísticas, is run in part by the ASU Art Museum, which worked in collaboration with Arizonan and Mexican arts organizations to create an artist exchange program between Guadalajara, Mexico and Phoenix.

Gabriel Rico and Estrella Payton, the first participants in the program, took different lessons from their experiences and came in with different expectations about the impact this type of program could have on their artistic mindset. 

As a result of the residency, Payton opened a show in Guadalajara while Rico exhibited at the ASU Art Museum. 

“First of all I would say that a residency is a really concentrated time that artists are privileged to have and I feel really lucky," said Payton, an ASU printmaking MFA alumna. 

Phoenix and Guadalajara arts organizations called Celebración Artística de las Americas (CALA Alliance) and Programa Anual de Open Studios (PAOS) worked with the University to shed light on the Latinx artists in their communities. They also sought to offer an opportunity to explore cultures and societies that could bring a new perspective to the artists' work. 

Rico said the residency provided several unique experiences. 

“All my experience during the residence was enriching, particularly the possibility of traveling to Guadalupe to see the (Yaqui) celebration of Easter, (it would) surely not happen elsewhere in the country," he said. "I finally feel comfortable, and part of something that goes beyond my perception as an artist ... that surely PAOS and CALA can see clearly.”

Casandra Hernàndez, the executive director of the CALA Alliance and the curator for CALA initiatives for the ASU Art Museum, played a major role in starting the program. She said not only is Phoenix a good candidate for the program because of its Latinx population and closeness to the border, but also that the Valley and Guadalajara are in similar stages of artistic development.

“These two cities have really exciting arts and cultural scenes in their own right, but they’re close to other major art centers," she said. "In the case of Guadalajara: Mexico City; in the case of Phoenix: Los Angeles. So, it’s really about sort of embracing what is coming out of Phoenix at this moment in time and then also creating new culture flow."

Payton said she hopes the program demonstrates that the arts community in the Valley has a global impact. 

And even though they take different approaches to their work — Rico's art is grounded in nature and Payton's in maps and cities — both artists said they're connected by and to Hispanic culture.

"I applied to this residency because I believe in the art in this point of the history between the United States and Mexico," Rico said. "Like the bridge, or the tunnel, under the wall. So we have the power to approach together, and this is a very powerful tool to get them both together."

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