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Blaffer Art Museum’s Contemporary Salon Highlights Latin American Art and Experimentalism

The roundtable discussion will uplift non-Euro-American works and cultivate interdisciplinary collaboration.

On the Blaffer Art Museum’s second floor, behind billowing black curtains, lies a dimly lit room where indigenous voices and machine-made noises coalesce and resonate throughout the space. Open to public viewing through January 4, 2020, Jacqueline Nova: Creación de la Tierra exhibition, a 19-minute, cyclical sound installation, challenges the museumgoers’ understanding of the oral and aural as well as what it means to determine what is and isn’t human. This exhibit, along with other works by Latin American artists, will be discussed at Blaffer Art Museum’s Contemporary Salon: Music, Art and Experimentation in Latin America event on December 4.

Fun and dynamic, contemporary salons are conversational roundtable discussions held in the galleries where attendees are surrounded by art. Salons are usually moderated by a museum or exhibition curator who kickstarts dialogue between a diverse panel of experts and an engaged audience with a series of questions related to the exhibit.

“Contemporary art salon pays homage to the exhibition and its creative process,” says Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Scholar-in-Residence in Musicology Daniel Castro Pantoja. “As Jacqueline Nova: Creación de la Tierra’s exhibition co-curator and this salon’s moderator, I’m interested to hear the exchanges between scholars and audiences.”

Castro Pantoja says that the roundtable discussion will give audiences the opportunity to learn more about Nova, a ground-breaking, avant-garde pioneer in experimental music in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s. The event will also discuss experimentalist works by other Latin American creatives who are often overlooked in conversations about avant-garde art.

“The contemporary salon allows a panel of experts from different disciplines to talk about Nova’s piece and about art, music and experimentalism in Latin America, decentering white men from Europe and the United States,” Castro Pantoja says. “The salon looks at what experimentalist works by Latin American creatives mean in various art field, and the interdisciplinarity aspect of this project will hopefully signal future collaborations for other projects.”

Castro Pantoja says the salon is not formal, like an academic presentation or paper, but casual and relatable. He encourages all to stop by since the free event is a chance for the University of Houston student body and Houston arts community to come and take a look at interdisciplinary collaboration in action and learn from people who have different methods or perspectives about a concept, artwork or movement. 

“It’s going to be a very lively discussion,” Castro Pantoja says. “The salon will bring deserved attention to art in Latin America and hopefully inspire other students and faculty to start collaborating.”