Fluid Ecologies: Hispanic Caribbean Art from the Loeb

Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs?
Where is your tribal memory? Sirs,
in that gray vault. The sea. The sea
has locked them up. The sea is History.

Derek Walcott

"Fluid Ecologies" booklet. Click image to browse.

The history—and art—of the Caribbean region is bound by the sea, by the ebbs and flows of myriad sea crossings that, beginning with Columbus’s fateful encounter, thrust the “sugar islands” into colonial economies, global trade, proto-capitalism, and ultimately modernity. The region’s historical role as crossroads of the world has engendered cultures, literatures, and art born of dynamic intellectual and creative networks connecting writers, artists, and ideas across the Caribbean Sea, its islands and continental shores, and the world beyond. 

The individuals featured in this exhibition, a cross-section of the region’s most celebrated Hispanic Caribbean artists of the last five decades, are linked through this sea-as-history, echoing in their work the fluid ecologies—momentous European encounters, the slave trade and the sugar plantation, a costly reliance on tourism, the slow violence of environmental mismanagement, ever-repeating cycles of diasporan departures and returns—that constitute the salient markers of the region’s history. Cognizant of a tradition of Caribbean representation that equates the region with Eden, these artists have sought to disavow this reduction of the tropical landscape to a tourist’s paradise. They offer instead intense renderings created at this crossroads of the world, emerging from a history of fluid navigations of a multifarious space. 

Fluid Ecologies was organized by the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Professor of Hispanic Studies on the Sarah Tod Fitz Randolph Distinguished Professor Chair.

The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own,
serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free,
ever more solitary.

Gabriel García Márquez