Six Latin American artists came together Thursday to discuss their soul-baring artwork.Artists Rafael Casco, Roman Murillo, Ivan Soto, Delia Flores, Sergio Martinez and Dennis Berrios are part of the "Latin American Art in a Global and Social Context" exhibit.
"We want these artists to engage in cultural exchange and understand, get to know East Tennessee," Angela Wiemken, from Dragonfly Art Dimensions said. "Wiemken was part of the team that arranged for the artists to come to Knoxville. "Part of our mission is to expose a different style of artwork that we are used to seeing here," Weimken said, "and also show the diversity that comes from Latin America."
However, exposing the diverse artwork isn't the only mission of the artists. In their country they are experiencing political conflict; it is this conflict that inspires them to use art to bring about social change and to express things that cannot be said with words."It's my way to have a proposal of change," Casco said.
The artists spoke of how they find inspiration in the children of Honduras. Berrios, specifically, spoke about how he paints to influence the children to stay off the streets and out of trouble. Berrios said he is learning during the process of teaching, which helps him better understand his society.
Each artist pointed out that it is important for them to express the emotions from their specific heritages. Put simply, they try to paint what their country is feeling. Flores said the artists channel the negative emotions their country is dealing with and express it through their paintings.
Although that entails going against their own government at times, Flores also said the group has embraced that they can bring about change through their art."When the people who decide to be an artist," Flores said, "they become an inspiration." For the artists, understanding others' emotions, as well as their own, is crucial for their artwork, Casco said."This is our face, from our soul, to show you guys who we are as an artist, as a person, as people from other countries," Casco added.
The artists also said they use their art as an escape, noting that with their art they can see things and experience things they would have never experienced without putting it on canvas. "This is something valuable, it's also very important," Murillo said. "You're looking for a reason to see things and explore things that I didn't really have."
However, the artists made it clear they are not painting for profit. For the five, they simply paint because they believe it's their calling. "We need to find a way to represent our society," Casco said, "and to show also that we can make a difference."