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BREATHE INTO THE PAST: CROSSCURRENTS IN THE CARIBBEAN

Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean features the work of twelve artists with connections to the Caribbean—including the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and coastal Colombia. Artists in the exhibition include Firelei Báez, Albert Chong, Andrea Chung, Maksaens Denis, Hulda Guzmán, Renluka Maharaj, Suchitra Mattai, Carlos Martiel, Javier Orfón, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, María Isabel Rueda, and Nyugen Smith.


Installation view of works by Nyugen Smith in Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Maksaens Denis, Mes Rêves / My Dreams, 2021, four-channel video installation, made in collaboration with Steeven Labady, Rudlem Basile, Jean Junior Valbrun, and Micheline Laudun Denis. installation view from Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
María Isabel Rueda, The Real. Retrato de Norman Mejía (The Real. A Portrait of Norman Mejía), 2013, 35mm slides transferred to video, 6:14 min. Courtesy the artist and KADIST collection. Installation view from Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Photo: Christian Valvano

The lands that touch the Caribbean Sea have become inextricably intertwined, over the centuries, with the rest of the globe, including parts of Africa, India, China, Japan, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. The Caribbean’s ecologies, economies, and cultures have been fundamentally shaped by these relationships, which have involved shifting empires and colonization, travels across bodies of water both voluntarily and forced, and the bodies of water themselves.

Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean takes its title from a line in Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s 2020 book Dub: Finding Ceremony, which is about channeling ancestral knowledge toward understanding Caribbean histories and navigating Caribbean futures.

The twelve featured artists in this exhibition hail from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, coastal Colombia, and beyond. Their artworks offer insights into the complex histories that have influenced the present—sometimes on grand scales, at other times in subtler yet still undeniable ways.

They acknowledge human and nonhuman entanglements, situate contemporary politics in spaces of coloniality and imperialism, and celebrate long histories of resistance and perseverance. They integrate a broad range of materials—vintage saris, codfish skins, bougainvillea thorns, sugar—into sculptures, books, photographs, films, and more, to speak to histories of migration and diaspora (the scattering of peoples from their homelands). In this way, the works and the artists who made them offer poetic responses to often-marginalized histories.

Installation view of Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Installation view of Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Installation view of Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano


Installation view of Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Installation view of Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Installation view of works by Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz in Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano
Hulda Guzmán, Uva de Playa 2, 2020, acrylic gouache on linen in artist’s frame; 35 x 35 in. (88.9 x 88.9 cm.). Private collection. Courtesy of the artist, Alexander Berggruen, NY, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Christian Valvano


“The artists in this exhibition make an important contribution to our understanding of the Caribbean, its past, and its future. Each of the works is a powerful example of how knowledge can be produced through material histories, intergenerational mentorship, and the channeling of ancestral influence,” said Michael Christiano, Director of Visual Arts & Museum Director.

Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean is organized by Dr. Naomi Wood, NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, and Chair and Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Colorado College, and Katja Rivera, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, with Savanah Pennell, Curatorial Paraprofessional at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

Installation view of works by Carlos Martiel in Breathe into the Past: Crosscurrents in the Caribbean. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 2022-2023. Photo: Christian Valvano

BREATHE INTO THE PAST: CROSSCURRENTS IN THE CARIBBEAN

Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, 30 West Dale St., Colorado Springs, CO

September 9, 2022 – January 29, 2023

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