Stamp Gallery’s ‘Connected Diaspora’ exhibit showcases connective power of social media

Kiara Machado's 'Centro' hangs in Stamp Gallery's 'Connected Diaspora' exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Stamp Gallery)

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the Stamp Gallery opened its newest exhibition, “Connected Diaspora: Central American Visuality in the Age of Social Media,” on Sept. 22. 

Featuring an array of artwork ranging from ceramic sculptures to paintings and digital pieces, the exhibition explores “images of displacement, war, and trauma,” as well as ideas about everyday life, nature and architecture and “insights on invisibility and empowerment,” to capture the experience of Central Americans in the United States, according to the gallery’s website.  

Curator Veronica Melendez said she felt it was important to focus on the experience of Central Americans in the age of social media, because now more than ever it has become possible for people who may feel separated from their culture to connect with each other, form communities and share their stories. 

“Especially for those people who maybe don’t have a Central American community where we live, it’s easier to build community, even though it’s virtual,” she said. “It’s made us all a lot closer.”

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Melendez said growing up in the U.S. with Central American parents has affected her artwork, creating unique experiences and difficulties that she thinks separate many Latin American artists’ work from others’. 

To accompany the exhibition, the gallery is hosting a range of virtual programs to connect with students both on the campus and at home. Upcoming events include two artist panels on Oct. 1 and Oct. 8, which will be livestreamed on Stamp’s YouTube page, as well as a zine-making workshop with Melendez’s La Horchata Zine on Oct. 15 and a Zoom dance party to celebrate the exhibition’s closing on Oct. 16.

“With the pandemic, and many students or visitors perhaps being further away from campus this fall due to the University’s de-densifying, we wanted to make sure all of our programming was virtual so we have a way for folks to still engage with the Stamp Gallery even if they can’t visit us in person,” Tara Youngborg, manager of the Stamp Gallery and Stamp’s Studio A., wrote in an email. “All of these will live on our website afterwards for folks who miss the livestreams.”

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Youngborg wrote that gallery attendance has decreased by about half due to the pandemic, but the virtual programming is gaining more traction than anticipated and making up for the loss.

“Our opening reception video on Instagram has garnered 264 views to date, which is more than three times our typical opening reception attendance,” she wrote. 

The Stamp Gallery is open to the public, and only 20 visitors are allowed at a time. If you have a large group or are concerned about COVID-19, you can reserve a 30-minute time slot to view the exhibit during the first hour the gallery is open each day or request a virtual tour.

“If you have the time, you should go check it out,” Melendez said. “It’s an opportunity to connect with members of the diaspora and the Central American community that’s in the area.”

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