Latin American Female Artists: Sita Gomez and Carmen Herrara
Latin Americans in the Arts
More often than not, BIPOC voices have been stifled in the visual arts. A general lack of conversation around prominent BIPOC, as well as immigrant, artistic leaders remains in mainstream rhetoric. This is an even harder wall to break within the realm of contemporary art. But talent is what persists in the end, even if the wait remains for ages.
Moreover, Latin American voices in American art have become far too obscure. A primarily Eurocentric art field, steeped in colonial origins and a classical, European canon of what is “right” or “high” art, is to blame for the staggered and late appreciation of two visual artists in particular: Sita Gomez de Kanelba and Carmen Herrara.
Sita Gomez and Carolina Herrara:
Gomez and Herrara are close acquaintances and artistic colleagues today. Gomez, a Cuban American originally born in Paris relocated to New York with her Family in the 30s. By 1955, Gomez had received an art diploma from the Parson’s School of Design. Herrara, also a Cuban American artist, was originally born in Havana in 1915. She made her move to New York City in 1939. Not long after, Herrara similarly found herself with an education at the Arts Students League until 1943.
Herrara spearheaded an early wave of Minimalism in 1945. This was ill received by modern art that still held on to Abstract Expressionism. Her works are explorations of “figures and forms,” many of which having to do with her time spent in Paris following WWII. Pictured left is “Iberic,” a piece from 1949. Herrara remains a largely influential artist, even at 105 years old. She’s often been quoted for stating: “I believe that I will always be in awe of the straight line, its beauty is what keeps me painting.”
Gomez has found success and currently works primarily in Hudson, New York. Her canvases are inspired especially by WWII and her experience as a wife and mother. Her female forms explore and challenge femininity at once, like the painting “Two Lesbians,” below. She self proclaims that painting has always been her saving grace, since the age of 4.
Both Latin American and immigrant women experienced early hiccups in their blossoming careers, but have gone on to achieve international renown. Both are active today. These hiccups stem from what was an aggressively monolithic art world of the 50s and 60s in the United States, particularly New York City.
Discrimination against female immigrant voices remains implicitly weaved into what we classify and proliferate under the title of Art. Let us begin to move forward and accept the tableaus and pieces of brilliance that have been buried under the cloud of traditional convention.