Art has a special power to connect us to other people–and that’s especially important in a time where empathy and connection can seem in short supply–yet most galleries and museums remain closed due to the pandemic. Looking to bring a little art into all our lives in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the teams at Art of Elysium, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Hyundai, and the Hollywood Palladium got together and developed a plan for something special. Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration, will be a drive-thru, outdoor art exhibit highlighting the work of local artists who identify as Latinx, complete with an audio narration that will help viewers really understand the work, rather than just cruise by.
In advance of the installation, which will open to the public on October 1, we spoke with the Museum of Latin American Art’s chief curator, Gabriela Urtiaga, about what went in to putting on such an unusual show.
Can you tell us a bit about Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration, and the collaboration between all the organizations involved?
This is a special and innovative experience between Hyundai, MOLAA, and the Art of Elysium, a drive-thru art exhibit celebrating Latinx art during this Hispanic Heritage Month. All of us are very excited, we´re going to show some of today´s groundbreaking Latinx artists in an immersive environment celebrating its huge cultural legacy and its influence especially in the City of Los Angeles.
It’s a great opportunity to see something different, something inspirational, during this complicated and uncertain time when we are trying to find new ways to connect with people. So the idea to do it in a drive-thru experience at the historic Hollywood Palladium is really fabulous.
What is the process of creating a drive-through art exhibition like? Are you as the curator looking for anything specific in the works that might be different than the needs of a traditional, indoor presentation?
Absolutely, we are living in an unprecedented time, so we have to think about everything differently. Driven is not only a show when you see art, it’s more than this. It’s a whole new experience. As a curator, I tried to tell a brief story about this Latinx legacy with powerful artworks, but not only from their aesthetic perspective but also from their meaningful message and ideas. Art can be something entertaining and exciting of course, but we don’t have to forget that art is also something that can change the way you see and think about everything.
Tell us a bit about how the experience will work for those that come to visit, and what they might be able to expect?
Driven is an immersive and interactive journey where people can experience contact with art, part physical and part virtual, without getting out of the car, in a socially distant way. It is a cultural event for the whole family, with art and music, a multi-cultural landscape throughout the work by prominent Latinx artists you can enjoy while you listen to a beautiful musical playlist, especially curated for the show. All from the comfort of your car!
Can you share an artist that you’re particularly excited for viewers to see and what makes their work so exciting?
All of them are really amazing but I would say the work of Judithe Hernández is one of the highlights of the show. She is a L.A. based artist and muralist; she was a pioneer in the Chicano Movement advocating for a critical feminist understanding. For Driven, I selected a very powerful work where she linked the women’s power with the Latinx roots in a quite sensual atmosphere. All of the artworks we present in the show are part of the MOLAA Permanent Collection.
Obviously, as just the existence of a drive-through exhibition indicates, we’re living through difficult, challenging times. What is the power of the arts to help us understand the world around us right now?
Art is always necessary, today maybe more than ever. I truly believe art can change people’s lives. In times where things are tense, uncertain and complicated all around, art has the extraordinary ability to bring us some inspiration, ideas, knowledge and beauty. All human things that really matter. Art is so necessary today in order to build a diverse society. We’re so excited to engage and share with the people the power of the art.
Driven: A Latinx Artist Celebration runs October 1-4 at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood. Attendance is free; advance reservations are recommended and can be booked online.
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