FotoViajeros: International Experience / Transnational Identity
Viajeros are individuals who travel back and forth between El Salvador and different U.S. cities, transporting and delivering letters, food, and money to family members across borders. In El Salvador, loved ones eagerly await their monthly remittance and news that all is well. In exchange, the viajeros fill up their bags with morolico, duro-blando, Petacón, and other culinary tastes of home, easing the pangs of absence for the newly arrived and the naturalized alike.
With some two million Salvadorans living in the U.S.—500,000 of them in the greater D.C. area—the country of El Salvador offers a lens into issues of migration, immigration, and cultural identity that are central to much contemporary art and photography.
With that in mind, and following the model of the viajeros, during the spring semester 2007, a group of Corcoran students and faculty participated in a travel-oriented course to El Salvador. Led by Salvadoran-born U.S. artist and Fulbright scholar Muriel Hasbun, the FotoViajeros learned about the history and culture of El Salvador and employed photography as the passport into a culture that was foreign to most. Additionally, photography was used as a way to begin a dialogue and a cultural exchange with the people of the smallest Central American country and the largest immigrant group in the D.C. area.
With this exhibition, the FotoViajeros, Aimee Anthony, Petra Barth, Caleb Churchill, Genevieve Cocco, Harry Chun, Valerie Dryden, Susan Etheridge, Muriel Hasbun, Gregory Nash, and Susan Sterner constructed a glimpse into the complex dynamic that was experienced—both here and there—and witness the legacy of a traumatic past in the resilience of the everyday.
Gallery 31 is the Corcoran’s newly dedicated exhibition space for the Corcoran College of Art + Design. The space will host exhibitions by the Corcoran’s faculty, students, alumni, visiting artists, and annual senior thesis exhibitions. The name was selected by the students, referring to the area’s previous designation as “Room 31” in original Corcoran plans. Located at the New York Avenue entrance of the Corcoran, Gallery 31 will be open during Gallery hours and will be free to the public.
FotoViajeros: International Experience/Transnational Identity was co-curated by Interim Chair and Associate Professor of Photography Muriel Hasbun and by Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Photojournalism Susan Sterner.