Migration, Globalization, and the Art of Shinzaburo Takeda

Shinzaburo Takeda, "Bordadoras," oil on canvas, 36x46 in, 2012.

Art and Migration in the Age of Globalization, an art exhibition and symposium taking place this summer at the UW, recognizes the contributions of Shinzaburo Takeda, a Japanese master painter and printmaker who has lived in Mexico for nearly fifty years and trained several generations of Mexican artists, many of them indigenous Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Lauro Flores (American Ethnic Studies) is the project’s organizer and exhibition curator.

Takeda, who was born in 1935 in Seto, Japan, trained at the University of Fine Arts of Tokyo. In 1963, he visited Mexico, studying mural painting in Mexico City and later lithography, and in 1978 moved to Oaxaca, where he became a professor of art at the University of Oaxaca. His students include many notable artists, such as Fulgencio Lazo and Alejandro Santiago. Lazo has lived and worked in Seattle for the last twenty years, and Santiago gained international celebrity in 2007 with the unveiling of his monumental project, 2501 Migrants.

Art and Migration in the Age of Globalization, which is funded as a public scholarship project by the Simpson Center, functions on two levels. “It is an homage to Takeda, a Japanese artist and professor who has made significant contributions to Mexican culture, to Oaxacan art, since his arrival in Mexico nearly fifty years ago,” Flores explains. “However, in a broader sense, Takeda's own experience as a transplanted artist and teacher, and the subsequent experiences of some of his students—those that have migrated to other places or thematically incorporated the topic of migration  into their works—make possible an exploration of the relationship between art and migration.”

Thus, the Art and Migration project invites viewers and participants to explore topics such as identity, interculturalism, diaspora, hybridity, and the role of the artist in a transnational reality—issues increasingly relevant in a growing globalized society—through the lens of art.

The exhibition, titled Art and Migration: Takeda and His Disciples /Arte y Migración: Takeda y sus Discípulos, features 24 works by Takeda and twelve of his most accomplished students, including Lazo and Santiago, as well as Iván Bautista, Edith Chávez, Irving Herrera, Francisco López Monterrosa, Jesús Mena Amaya, Ixrrael Montes, Israel Nazario, Fernando Olivera, Alberto Ramírez, and Rolando Rojas.  The exhibition will be on view at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery from June 26 through July 20, 2012. A catalogue, printed in bilingual format, will accompany the exhibition, and an opening reception with Takeda, Lazo, Mena, and Montes will be held at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery on Friday, June 29, from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. It is open to the public.

On Wednesday, June 27, a panel discussion will be held as part of the project.  Titled “Art, Indigenous Communities, and Migration in the Age of Globalization,” it takes place at 7:00 pm at the UW Ethnic Cultural Theatre, 3940 Brooklyn Ave NE. It features Takeda along with filmmaker Yolanda Cruz, and scholars Erasmo Gamboa (UW American Ethnic Studies) and Agustín Jacinto Zavala (Colegio de Michoacán, México).

The Henry Art Gallery hosts a film screening of 2501 Migrants: A Journey on Thursday, June 28, at 7:00 pm.  Directed by Yolanda Cruz, this full-length documentary explores the impact of global migration on Indigenous communities by documenting the journey that thousands of poor young Mexicans—many of them from Indigenous groups—make north in search of job prospects, abandoning their native homes and cultures in the process.  It tells this story through the art of Alejandro Santiago, who returns from a sojourn in France to find his native Teococuilco emptied.  In response, he undertakes a monumental project: the creation of 2,501 life-size clay human figures—his homage to each individual migrant who has left his village to sell his or her labor in the United States. Following the film, Cruz will be present to answer questions.

Two related courses are being offered this summer to UW undergraduates. Kris Anderson (Jacob Lawrence Gallery) and Judi Clark (School of Art) will co-facilitate an internship program in gallery methodology. Students will be exposed to and involved in the many facets of organizing this art exhibition, including the curatorial process, installation and hanging of the works of art, development of  related publicity materials, and monitoring the gallery once open to the public to ensure the safety of the works on view.

Flores will teach Special Topics in Latin America: “Visual and Literary Texts,” which will examine how writers and artists have rendered issues related to the exhibition and symposium: public and private art, indigenism, interculturalism, and migration. Students will engage with the symposium and exhibition as they investigate intersections between visual and literary representations.

Flores hopes that the project prompts its audiences to consider art’s changing role in an increasingly globalized society. “This project has allowed me to foreground, in a practical manner, issues such as globalization, migration, and diaspora—matters central to the work that we do in American Ethnic Studies,” he says. “My hope is that people will come away from it with broader ideas about the role of art in the public sphere, and about the role of the artist as aesthetic creator, cultural documenter, social critic, and a catalyst for change.”

Once it leaves the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, the exhibition travels to Wenatchee, Washington, where it will be on view at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center from July 25 through September 30.