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From spring to summer, Philadelphia visual artist Cesar Viveros collaborated with Wilmington’s Delaware Arts Museum in advancing the museum’s vision — welcoming diverse communities and inviting them to experience the cultural richness within its walls.
In the museum’s Estampas de La Raza exhibition, Viveros made a meaningful contribution by showcasing the rich variation of cultures, traditions, and identities within the Mexican American and Latino community.
With that he created a mural referencing “La Esquina” or “La Bodega,” the corner store.
“Lo que tuvo más sentido fue crear la ilusión de que fuera una tienda digamos la tienda de la esquina o como dicen los dominicanos, puertorriqueños, la bodega”, él dijo. “La esquina de pronto se convierte en un lugar donde la gente también pasa mucho tiempo, donde intercambian muchas ideas”.
“What made the most sense was to create the illusion that it was a store, let’s say the corner store or as the Dominicans, Puerto Ricans say, ‘la bodega,’” he said. “The corner store suddenly becomes a place where people also spend a lot of time, where they exchange a lot of ideas.”
In the Latino community, it’s common to see living poster boards on walls or bulletin boards, said Viveros, and he wanted to integrate that into the mural.
“La idea era que yo me inspirara en todas esas historias en lo que ellos quisieran hablar, que ellos consideran importantes, que ellos consideran que los representara, que todo esa conversación se hubiera de inspiración para que yo pudiera hacer una interpretación y dar una tarea de producir una serie de pósters”, dijo Viveros.
“The idea was that I would be inspired by all those stories that they wanted to talk about, what they consider important, [and] what they consider that represents them, all those conversations would be inspirations to make interpretations and bring a task to produce a series of posters,” said Viveros.
Cesar Viveros poses for a photo in front of his mural (Courtesy of Cesar Viveros)
While hosting community workshops, he found a special interest in the experiences of elders, especially those in senior facilities. This led to a workshop with the Latin American Cultural Center’s “Los Abuelos” program.
Viveros’ permanent collection, “Mi Vida, Mi Voz, La Vida de Uno y el Lugar que Ocupamos,” owned by DAM, features seven silkscreens, three of which are dedicated to share the experiences of Latino elders.