Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary


Art Under Duress:
El Salvador 1980-present

detail, catalog cover: Antonio Bonilla, Angel of the Tropics, not dated.
[select detail for view of whole image]

"If art cannot make a difference in people's lives, it is difficult to justify. It is expensive. Only rarely can it be eaten. Surely it can be more than capital goods, investment, personal confession; even more than a source of delight to those who own it or even experience it in the museum. Those roles are important, but alone they are not enough for me.

This is a dangerous world. Some art should serve as a vacation from that danger, and much of it does. But certainly some of it should be dangerous, or make us feel the immenence of that danger. "

....from the introduction by Marilyn A. Zeitlin, curator of the exhibit and catalog editor, Nelson Art Center, Arizona State University (ASU).

Rudolfo Molina Mapa, not dated
Marilyn Zeitlin traveled to El Salvador in 1994, where she located, documented, organized and ultimately arranged to have exhibited in the United States work by dozens of El Salvadoran artists, many with formal art school training, and many more without. Wes Sandel was her co-director for a video documentary of this project. Staff from the Arizona State University Museum were also deeply involved and responsible for the enormous amount of work and organization required to make the project a reality. All of their hard work and efforts would not have been possible without the hospitality and guidance of the many people they met in El Salvador, whose cooperation and encouragement were essential.

[left] Antonio Bonilla, La Masacre de los Santos Inocentes not dated. [The Massacre of the Holy Innocents] [right] La Via Cruces de la Nina Florida 1992. [The Way of the Cross of the Flower Girl]

The catalog accompanying the exhibition includes a chronology of El Salvador from its domination in 1525 by conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, through to the December 1994 redefinition of the FMLN (Farabundo Marti Liberation Front). Most of the text and all the essays are presented in Spanish and English (translated by Beatriz Cortez).

Mario Salvador Sanchez, two untitled pencil drawings, 1987. Three of the five essays are interviews: Zeitlin discusses Present & Future: New Standards in the Post-War Period with Angela Sanbrano, Hope and Change, with Jon Cortina,, and El Salvador and Global Colonialism, with Noam Chomsky. Eduardo Sancho is the author of the essay entitled Adapting to a New Situation: The Political Picture in El Salvador after the War.
Zeitlin also contributes an essay: Salvadoran Realities: A Post-war Perspective.

Roberto Huezo
untitled charcoal on paper, 1990.

Amando Campos
La Sed, 1993. [Thirst]

Dagoberto Nolasco Pasoide, 1994.
ink on paper
Collection ASU Art Museum
A well-organized bibliography completes this art- and information-rich document.

Please note: All images in Graphic Witness are for personal enjoyment or educational use. Any other use is prohibited.