The latest exhibit in Tipton Gallery in downtown Johnson City, “Neither Here, Nor There,” creates a new perspective on Latino/Mexican-American art.
Translating to “Neither Here, Nor There,” this exhibit primarily bases itself on Mexican emblems and messages.
Artist Rogelio Gutierrez, the man responsible for setting up “Ni De Aqui, Ni De Alla,” is a first generation Mexican-American and aims to focus his art on Latino/Mexican-American “commonalities…differences, issues regarding immigration policies…where we stand regardless of this border than can either block us or how we can avoid it to unite us.”
In one piece titled “Still Waiting” by Xiberto L. Nunéz, the print-based picture takes on a child-like art form, appearing as a child’s drawing of a son and father together. In a large scrawl, the print says, “Im still waiting for u, Dad.”
Karlota Contreras-Koterbay, the director of Slocumb and Tipton Galleries, said this particular piece speaks to her about the separation of families commonly found among Mexican-American families. For Contreras-Koterbay, it represents the separation of parents from their children when they are deported.
Contreras-Koterbay said “Ni De Aqui, Ni De Alla” represents the “duality of identify, the acceptance or the non-acceptance sometimes…where some of the Mexican-Americans don’t get accepted in Mexico, because they’re too American, and then the Americans won’t accept the Mexican-Americans because they’re too Mexican…Who are they supposed to be?”
Gutierrez’s said his art is a personal testimony of his background and experiences found from travelling. His essential question is “Does this border really separate us?” and wishes to understand “if a country really defines who you are, and what kind of community you can build.”
With the Latino numbers rising in the United States, Gutierrez said people must accept the changes this country is undergoing. As a nation, America is “creating a diverse, multicultural society, so we should start embracing it.”
“We’re a mashup of different people from different parts of the world…That becomes the United States’ identity,” Gutierrez said. “It’s about acceptance. At the end of the day, we’re human beings.”
Through the usage of several different art forms, from realistic prints to more abstract images, “Ni De Aqui, Ni De All” bases itself not only on Mexican culture, but it also ties in American emblems to signify the close ties American culture has with Mexico and the Latino community.
“Ni De Aqui, Ni De Alla” will be showcased in Tipton Gallery until April 28.