Thirty thousand black paper moths are perched on the walls and ceiling of the Phoenix Art Museum lobby. Some moths the size of a softball, others as small as a penny, greet visitors to the museum with their delicate wings and form a visual path that encircles guests and escorts them into the main exhibition.
The moths are Mexican artist Carlos Amorales’ “Black Cloud,” and the exhibition is “Order, Chaos and the Space Between,” a celebration of Latin American art.
More than 50 artworks by 43 artists from seven countries are showcased. The pieces come from the private collection that Phoenix residents Bruce and Diane Halle have been building for 18 years.
“… The experience of seeing the “Black Cloud, the black moths on the wall, is a really haunting, surreal, beautiful experience,” says Latin American art curator Vanessa Davidson.
“… By coming to the museum and experiencing this work, I think that our community will really understand better the great diversity and originality of works of art from Latin America.”
This is the first time the museum has ever showcased a collection of this size from such a large number of artists of varying nationalities, says Davidson.
Some of this diversity and originality can be seen in Cuban artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ rectangle of green candy placed on the gallery floor.
“What you’re invited to do is to literally consume the work of art, and while you’re doing that, you reflect upon how radical that proposition is, in an exhibition where everything else is untouchable,” says Davidson.
While some of the pieces deal with concepts that challenge what defines art, as illustrated in Torres’ work, other displays were created as a response to the past and present political climate of Latin America.
Doris Salcedo takes the furniture and clothes of Colombians who have fled that country’s violence and repurposes them into monuments to their memories, says Davidson. Broken wardrobes, tattered dresses and well-worn shoes symbolize the traumas their owners once experienced.
Along with merely viewing Salcedo’s and the accompanying artists’ works, visitors are invited to take part in educational programs tied into the exhibit that will enhance the show’s meaning.
Davidson says that while these artist meet-and-greets, kids’ tours and film screenings will surely attract visitors, the true spectacle of this display comes down to the art itself.
“First and foremost,” says Davidson, “it’s a beautiful show with cutting-edge artwork that (visitors) are likely not to see again for a long time.”
If you go
What: “Order, Chaos and the Space Between,” an art exhibition showcasing Latin American works from 1945 to 2011
When: On display 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. the first Friday of each month through May 5.
Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave.
Cost: $6-$15 per person. Admission is free 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the first Friday of each month
Information: (602) 257-1222 or PHXart.org
• Ellen, a junior studying journalism at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.