The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 with a variety of virtual programs that will illuminate the many ways in which the cultures, traditions and stories of Americans with origins in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America have influenced US history. On Nov. 2, this series of bilingual events will culminate in a special outdoor installation by the artist MasPaz, who is based in the Washington DC area. His work will place the tradition of Día de los Muertos in context with the current COVID-19 crisis.
“As part of the Portrait Gallery’s mission to celebrate the diversity of US history, we commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month and the Latinx community more widely by linking the past to the present through our collection, special projects and accessible virtual offerings,” said Taína Caragol, the Portrait Gallery’s curator of painting and sculpture and Latinx art and history. “Representing this growing community is particularly important as projections indicate that the percentage of Americans who identify as Latinx or who are of Latin American origin will exceed 20% in the next five years.”
Throughout September and October, the museum’s weekly virtual programs will provide the opportunity for children and families to explore portraits by Latinx artists and hear the stories of Latinx sitters like Sandra Cisneros, Marisol, Selena, Pedro Martínez and Sonia Sotomayor. Programs include Young Portrait Explorers on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. on the Portrait Gallery’s Instagram @smithsoniannpg and “Introducing…,” a story-time program on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. on YouTube. More details are available on the museum’s “Visit at Home” page at npg.si.edu/visit.
Enthusiasts are also invited to delve further into the life and legacy of activist Dolores Huerta through an online adaptation of the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition “One Life: Dolores Huerta” (2015–16), which was curated by Caragol and highlighted Huerta’s key role as a co-founder and leader of the California farm workers’ movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The online exhibition is available on the Portrait Gallery’s Google Arts & Culture page. A traveling version of the museum’s exhibition, “Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields / Revolución en los Campos,” will be on view at the Museo Latino in Omaha, Nebraska, through Sept. 27. Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Following Hispanic Heritage Month, the Portrait Gallery will present a special commission by MasPaz. In celebration of Día de los Muertos Nov. 2, he will project a video and sound installation on the G Street façade of the museum’s building. The video will weave together images of COVID-19 victims that have been donated by their loved ones. To commemorate the Latinx individuals who have died, MasPaz will also create an altar with a painted mural, which will be displayed outside the museum’s G Street entrance. This project is supported by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.
The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington DC. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu.
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