Pictured Above: Kelynn Z. Alder’s “Immigrantes 2018″

The East End is home to artists from all over Central and South America, who each bring a unique artistic and cultural perspective to this place they now call home.

Greenport’s Floyd Memorial Library is celebrating these artists in a new exhibition, “Heritage and Home: Latin American Artists of the East End,” on view through May 12.

Library Curator Sally Grant came up with the idea for the show, and contacted local artists who helped spread the word. Ms. Grant also expressed her gratitude for the generous suggestions and support of Isabel Sepúlveda-de Scanlon, Minerva Perez, and Karen Sánchez of OLA Long Island, and Sonia Spar, a long-time advocate for the North Fork’s Latin American community.

Sally Grant, Sonia Spar & Carmen Campos at the March 22 opening.

The bilingual show is diverse in representation, media and style, but many of the pieces share a sense of a piece of home carried with the artists as they travel, and of the challenges of  building a cohesive sense of self after being uprooted from one’s home and culture.

 Puppeteer, puppetmaker and educator Carmen Campos of Cutchogue, said at the March 22 opening reception for the show that Ms. Spar had encouraged her to participate, which she found surprising, since puppet makers aren’t often invited to participate in gallery shows. She was pleasantly surprised to see both fine and folk art represented in the show, including Erwin List Sanchez’s Mexican Alebrije statues, piñatas from Guatamala, mixed media, textiles and films. 

Ms. Campos’ contributions to the show include a vintage suitcase containing a diorama depicting Frida Kahlo’s relationship with her imaginary friend, and Esperanza, a puppet Andean storyteller who comes with her to tell children stories.

Darlene Charneco with “House Readings (Ars Memoria)” at the opening

Darlene Charneco, who was raised in Ronkonkoma and whose parents are from Puerto Rico, often explores themes of the way the world around us shapes who we are, through tactile “touch maps” made with nails, tacks and poured resin. Ms. Charneco, whose work is also on view at Guild Hall in East Hampton this spring, chose her “House Readings (Ars Memoria)” for exhibition in Greenport, an intimate piece that draws connections between her childhood home and her two-year residency during the Covid-19 pandemic at the William Steeple Davis House in Orient. 

“This was a special project,” said Ms. Charneco.

Hector deCordova, who at 92 had been working as an artist in Greenport since before many of the exhibition’s artists were born, brought “Carnaval,” a colorful painting that he hopes “evokes a feeling of vibrancy, fun and good times, which played a large part in my being a Latino artist in New York.”

Other pieces shared the more painful side of leaving one’s home, like Rachel Guiterrez’s striking “Fragmented Identity,” a broken mirror that alternately shows the viewer their own face interspersed with a young person contemplating their reflection.

“Get away from home, from the neighborhood, from your land, it is an exercise of reconstruction in which one loses form, breaks into pieces and then rebuilds oneself,” says Ms. Guiterrez, originally from Cuba, in her description of her piece.”

Others revealed that process from within the struggle.

“Why would I show you images of my family’s stomping grounds or my hella’ brown skin when I can show you a real interiority that stems from my own rootlessness and diaspora?” asks Greenport photographer Estefany Molina. “… you are reading this inside of a building built on bricks brought over from England and built by the son of one of the founding fathers of the United States, the ultimate imperial experiment. You are here, looking. And that in itself, is radical.”

Floyd Memorial Library is at 539 First Street in Greenport.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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