New York City’s El Museo del Barrio Fosters Growth of Aspiring Latino Artists


Melissa Castellanos writes about the role of New York City’s El Museo del Barrio in fostering the development of  artists of Latin American or Caribbean descent in many ways, and more recently, through a program called “Back in Five Minutes,” which gives artists studio space.

New York City is one of the top art capitals of the world and houses some of the most coveted works in top-tier museums and galleries. Among them is El Museo del Barrio, which has embraced and celebrated the talents of Latino artists, putting them on the map in the art world on a local and global scale.

In an effort to foster the growth of Latino artists, El Museo del Barrio is offering aspiring artists, who are of Puerto Rican, Latin American or Caribbean descent, to become a part of its residency, called “BACK IN FIVE MINUTES,” a program aimed at giving artists studio space with its galleries.

Selected participants, one per session, will have to conduct a new body of work in an area that is customarily known for the installation of finished works of art. “BACK IN FIVE MINUTES” allows for an on-going presence of the artist that in essence will become a work of art itself.

“El Museo del Barrio’s purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret the art and artifacts of Caribbean and Latin American cultures for posterity. To enhance the sense of identity, self-esteem and self-knowledge of the Caribbean and Latin American peoples by educating them in their artistic heritage and bringing art and artists into their communities,” according to its official website. “To provide an educational forum that promotes an appreciation and understanding of Caribbean and Latin American art and culture and its rich contribution to North America.”

El Museo del Barrio has become part of the fabric of New York City and its roots are deeply embedded in rich Latin roots and has served as a way to promote, support and inspire Latin artists.

“El Museo was founded 40 years ago by artist and educator Raphael Montañez Ortiz and a coalition of parents, educators, artists, and activists who noted that mainstream museums largely ignored Latino artists. Since its inception, El Museo has been committed to celebrating and promoting Latino culture, thus becoming a cornerstone of El Barrio, and a valuable resource for New York City.” [. . .]

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