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The Significance of Culturally Enriching Museum Exhibits through the lens of CCI


By Marialaura Gionfriddo on Unsplash

Around the world, certain months are dedicated to honoring marginalized communities, like Black History Month or Latin Heritage Month, to name a few. While these months serve as important reminders to honor these communities, it's essential to remember that recognition, and celebration of these communities and their contributions to the world isn't confined to these specific times. The Creative and Cultural Industries can play a significant role in achieving this, and one area we can explore this through is museums. In the digital age, visiting a museum is no longer limited to physical attendance; there's now the option of experiencing museums electronically. With this in mind, we've put together a carefully curated list of museum exhibits that you can explore either virtually or in person that have been created with an eye towards diversity, equity and inclusion. Check it out below!


By iSAW Company on Unsplash

CURRENT EXHIBITS:

Museum of Latin American Art: MOLAA

Exhibition: Alexandre Arrechea: Intersected Horizons

  • This museum is hosting the first solo museum exhibition in California showcasing the artistic endeavors of the renowned multidisciplinary artist Alexandre Arrechea. Coming from a contemporary Afro-Cuban background, Arrechea has spent over two decades splitting his time between Spain and the USA. His innovative approach, characterized by pushing the boundaries of traditional artifacts and materials, serves as a focal point for social and political exploration, seamlessly merging art, history, and archaeological elements. This exploration is vividly depicted throughout the exhibition "Alexandre Arrechea: Intersected Horizons.” Featuring a diverse array of works spanning from paintings, installations, sculptures, and more, Arrechea's creations delve into themes of culture, identity, and representation. This exhibition holds immense significance as it offers a comprehensive insight into the creative process of a multifaceted artist.

By Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

ONLINE EXHIBITS:

Museum of Latin American Art: MOLAA

Exhibition: “I AM: NEW AFRO-LATINX NARRATIVES"

  • MOLAA is currently redefining the museum experience by offering some of its exhibits online. Since 2022, in honor of Black History Month, they have introduced an innovative platform for listening to and amplifying Black voices. MOLAA invited guest curator María Elana Ortiz to collaborate with MOLAA Chief Curator Gabriela Urtiaga, to work on the exhibition "I AM: NEW AFRO-LATINX NARRATIVES” As described on their website, the show features artists who offer compelling perspectives on "crucial themes such as race, power, memory, and identity, while revisiting the imagery and heritage within African-descended communities. With contributions from artists like Daniel Lind-Ramos, Belkis Ayón, Eliazar Ortiz, and Glendalys Medina, audiences are invited to immerse themselves in a collective journey where they delve into “topics such as social and racial inequality, struggle, lack of opportunities, and the re-examination and re-envisioning of hope for a better present and better representation.” This online experience not only allows us to engage with the artists' stories but also provides insight into their interests in social, political, and cultural references. It serves as a platform for exploring the intersection of activism and a commitment to narrate histories from diverse perspectives. Check out the free online exhibit here. 


Image provided courtesy of Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center

UPCOMING EXHIBITS:

Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center 

Exhibition: MAPPING THE GAY GUIDES

March 23, 2024

  • Bob Damron was born into an era where most states banned same-sex intimacy in both public and private spaces across most states. Despite owning a few gay bars in California, there was a time when he sought safe places for himself, which led to the creation of a little known project named the Bob Damron Address Book. This publication served as a travel guide, aiding gay individuals in discovering bars, cocktail lounges, bookstores, restaurants, and various other establishments. Described on Mapping the Gay Guides as being just like the Green Books helped African Americans find welcoming places during segregation, Damron's guides helped queer people find their communities. Although others published similar guides, Damron's was the most popular. With the growth of the internet Damron's book gradually fell out of use, yet according to Mapping the Gay Guides it remains a testament to “an enduring and active queer travel community that was never strictly confined to a closet.” Now, with help from California State University Fullerton and The National Endowment of Humanities, the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center will bring Damron's guidebooks to life in an exhibition set to open on March 23, 2024 titled: MAPPING THE GAY GUIDES This exhibition holds immense significance as it offers a window into the past, revealing a queer history within a local community that may have often have been considered as nonexistent to many.


By Keren Fedida on Unsplash

The Bowers Museum

Exhibition: Asian Comics: Evolution of an Art Form

March 9, 2024

  • Asian comics have gained significant popularity across the world with styles ranging from anime to manga, yet their contributions to the world of art are often overlooked. On March 9th, 2024, The Bowers Museum will unveil the immersive exhibit "Asian Comics: Evolution of an Art Form." This exhibition will offer a captivating journey through the rich history of comics and visual storytelling from across Asia, a display never before witnessed in an American museum setting. The exhibition will thoroughly explore every facet of Asian comic artistry, from its origins to the latest innovations by digital creators. As described on the museum's website there will be “a focus on popular Japanese manga and beyond, [which will] spotlight key creators, beloved characters, and influential publications.” Artworks from various Asian countries, including but not limited to China, North Korea, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Japan, will be featured. Through diverse narratives, the exhibition will illustrate how Asian comics have shaped and influenced a myriad of creative industries, including cinema, fashion, animation, and much more. The Bowers Museum states, “This unique exhibition makes its North American debut at Bowers Museum and offers a gateway to an unexplored world of graphic storytelling and its artistic value.” 


Flyer provided by the Heroes Hall Museum
Photo courtesy of the Heroes Hall Museum at the exhibits opening ceremony

IN THE PAST AND RELEVANT:

Costa Mesa, Heroes Hall Museum

Exhibit: Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II

  • In February of 2022, Costa Mesa’s Heroes Hall Museum had an exhibition titled "Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II," which remained open until September 18th, 2022. According to Spectrum News 1's Will Sayre, the display was moved to sunny Southern California from The National WWII Museum in New Orleans to raise awareness of the hardships and sacrifices faced by African Americans during World War II, both at home and abroad. It's important to remember that the US military was segregated during World War II, with Black servicemen assigned to all-Black units, prohibited from serving in combat duties, and limited to service positions like mechanics and cooks. It wasn’t until the war escalated that they received the opportunity to assume combat responsibilities. In the Spectrum News 1 piece, Sayres describes how the museum's supervisor, Carol Singleton, emphasizes the importance of presenting these stories, demonstrating African Americans' desire to serve their country while being legally barred from doing so. The exhibit featured artifacts, photographs, and oral histories illustrating the challenges encountered during the war. Sayres further states how the museum planned to periodically rotate themes, each spotlighting different aspects of veterans' personal stories and experiences. Although the exhibit is no longer available at the museum, you can virtually learn from it here.  


By Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash

Museums have a duty to continue to create and curate exhibitions, like the ones discussed here, to honor and direct a spotlight onto the many diverse communities that contribute to our culture. Historically, many of these populations have been unjustly excluded from conversations about their representation in cultural institutions. But the tide seems to be turning. When museums and cultural centers actively engage with diverse communities, not only to highlight them but to collaborate with them, it enriches us all. These collaborations demonstrate that such initiatives do not need to be corralled into just one specialty month a year. We hope you have the chance to visit these exhibits and discover the joy of learning from different cultures. If you do, remember to share your experience via Instagram @chapman_CCI or email ccistu01@chapman.edu! Additionally, if you or someone you know has an important story to share or would like to be featured on our blog, please don't hesitate to reach out to our social media coordinator erosas@chapman.edu 


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