The art market and art world of the future will have no choice but to challenge itself and make a true commitment to be more inclusive of Latinx artists, such as
, M. Tony Peralta, Lucia Hierro,
, Melanie Gonzalez, Mary Valverde,
, and Lisa C. Soto, all at different stages in their careers, forging their own paths despite the challenges.
At the same time, we must ensure Latin American and Latinx art are not conflated, whether out of ignorance or for the convenience of the market. That conflation erases rich differences across populations. Few scholars or curators would put African-American artists and African artists in the same category, given their different historical and cultural experiences.
Artists, too, should have a voice in this matter. Some artists resist any of these categories to avoid being limited by them, or seeing their work devalued by the stigma, and low price points, these categories portend. Identifying as Latinx can place an artist into its historical context of identity politics and socially engaged art, yet not all Latinx artists make work that speaks to struggles of decolonization, race, class, and the status of perpetual exile.
For the past year, I’ve attended panels, symposiums, and interviewed professionals in the art world about the current state of Latinx art in the United States. This exploration was initially triggered by my inability to name living contemporary Latinx artists, even though I majored in contemporary art history in college and worked in the contemporary art world in New York City. I knew there was a formidable Latinx presence here because I was part of it and grew up in it, but for reasons I did not yet know, Latinx artists were largely invisible in the art market and the art world at large.
I’d like to see more Latinx artists alongside other American artists in major exhibitions at mainstream institutions, not as symbolic notions of diversity but included on the merits of their work. We cannot afford to shy away from the complexity that is shared culture, and must do our part to ensure Latinx artists are conceptualized as both powerful protagonists and producers of U.S. culture.