Serious Screen Time

Despite its commercial apeal, screen art is fine art, at least in the hands of Sam Coronado. A painter turned printmaker, Coronado began his career in 1969, working at various studios and teaching art at universities around the country. In 1993, he founded the Serie Project, a nonprofit which annually invites between 10 to18 artists to Austin for a week so that the jury-selected group might learn the craft of serigraphy, a technique that produces original, hand-pulled prints. About two thirds of the artists are Hispanic. Each year’s class turns out about fifty show-worthy prints. The Serie Project then markets these works to promote the artists’ careers.

Coronado was initially inspired by a trip to Self-Help Graphics & Art in East Los Angeles, a nonprofit visual arts center serving the Latino community as well as a need he saw for venues to produce and exhibit Latino works. “Self-Help Graphics gave me a model to form the Serie Project and the desire to help other Latino artists survive and promote their art,” he says. “We are at the beginning of a new era in Latino Art.”

The Serie Project has produced designs that involve images of Lucha Libre wrestlers and apocalyptic Mayans as well as vibrant details of daily barrio life. These efforts will be on full display at the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in Dallas on September 14-November 8, 2012 in a show called The People of Paper: New Figuration from the Serie Project.

Curated by Tatiana Reinoza, the exhibit features over thirty serigraphs by artists from across the country and examines figuration as a form of storytelling and world-making. “What I like about the Serie Project is that over the years they have created a rich and varied archive of Latino visual culture and print activism that speaks to the experience of Latinos living and working in the U.S.,” says Reinoza, a PhD Candidate in art history at the University of Texas. Also on view is Corazones y Guerras: A Sam Coronado Print Retrospective, which showcases prints by Coronado himself.

“The LCC is delighted to have the work of the Serie Project in its galleries to kick off its 2012-13 season,” said Benjamin Espino, General Manager.

The LCC was dedicated in 2003 to a multidisciplinary celebration of Latino arts that includes film, dance, and cinema. Designed by Mexican-born Ricardo Legorreta, it is considered an architectural masterpiece, with its integration of natural forms and traditional Mexican “wall culture.” Just across the freeway from downtown Dallas, the LCC stands as the embodiment of the beauty of neglected aesthetic forms and contemporary design. It is exactly this mix of old and new that excites Coronado.

“We have been through several stages that have been milestones for us as artists:WWII, Viet Nam, Civil Rights and now the Technical Revolution,” he says. “Perhaps the end of the Mayan Calendar is actually the beginning of that era where, we as Latino artists, will take a formidable place in the fabric of American Art as well as become part of Global Art.”

Coronado fervently believes that art is intrinsically involved with social and political issues, and that his Serie Project brings Latino art to the public in a way that illuminates what has been shadowed. “The experimentation and the expression of new ideas is based on old iconography and new approaches to old methods of producing art,” he says. “The young are usually more apt to improvise and experiment.”

Roberto Ontiveros