Studio Lenca: Chisme
March 12–April 16, 2023
Studio Lenca (Jose Campos) presents an installation of 15 painted woodcut figures depicting vibrant Latin migrant workers. Chisme was completed in partnership with WeCount!, a membership-led organization of low-wage immigrant workers in South Florida who made drawings of plants, trees, and seeds on the back of the figures.
One side of the life-size cutouts–painted in the artist’s characteristic vibrant, bold style–features charismatic Latin immigrants, proudly wearing hats like crowns of nobility. The raw wood back side of the structure is the canvas for drawings made by the low-wage immigrant workers of plants, trees, and seeds. The drawings refer to the slogan “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds,” seen on banners and popularized during the 2018 protests against the Trump administration’s family separation policies. The defiant drawings challenge the invisibility of these workers in American society. The 15 works in the exhibition are recent acquisitions, now part of the Parrish Art Museum’s permanent collection.
Chisme was gifted to the Parrish Art Museum by Mario Cader-Frech, founder of Y.ES Contemporary, whose mission is to create opportunities for outstanding Salvadoran contemporary artists to advance their artistic practice and engage with artists, curators, collectors, gallerists, and the media within and outside El Salvador. Cader-Frech offered the works to the Museum with the goal of augmenting the roster of Latin-American artists in the Parrish permanent collection.
ABOUT JOSE CAMPOS & STUDIO LENCA
Born in La Paz, El Salvador, Jose Campos was among the many who fled the country during its violent civil war in the late 1980s. He traveled illegally with his mother to the US by land, and grew up in the gaze of a strictly conservative administration as an “illegal alien.” Studio Lenca is the artist’s working name: Studio refers to a space for experimentation and constantly shifting place; Lenca is the name of the Campos’s ancestors from El Salvador.
Studio Lenca is focused on ideas surrounding difference, knowledge, and visibility. Working in the areas of performance, video, painting, and sculpture, his process starts with personal memories underpinned by social activism and different forms of praxis. Studio Lenca paintings tell an autobiographical story that navigates borders and identities destroyed, redrawn, and erased through colonization and war. The portraits depict the artist and his community proudly wearing hats and vibrant colors in noble defiance of the Western discourse around migration.
Chisme was organized by the Curatorial and Education departments led by Corinne Erni, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Martha Stotzky, Deputy Director of Arts Education.
The Parrish Art Museum’s programs are made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and by the property taxpayers from the Southampton School District and the Tuckahoe Common School District.