The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community | National Museum of Mexican Art | Museums | Chicago Reader

The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community Agenda Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks Recommended Image

When: April 21-Aug. 23 2015

When National Museum of Mexican Art curator Cesáreo Moreno began planning the museum's new exhibit inspired by Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street, he searched for work that conveyed the central themes of her writing. "The book really focuses on growing up, coming of age within a city in the United States," he says. "So the artists [in the show] really examine family, they examine neighborhoods, stereotypes . . . the urban experience."

Composed of over 70 works by more than 50 artists, "The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community" is a showcase packed with varied ideas about home, identity, and the expansive concept of community. Like Cisneros's collection of vignettes, the exhibit need not be experienced linearly. One can start at the beginning, middle, or end—an approach that isn't regularly practiced by the NMMA, as oftentimes "the artwork has a bit of a didactic mission to it," says Moreno.

Though the exhibit is laid-back and cheerful, by no means does it hide the prevalent issues affecting communities of today. It highlights the disintegration of poor neighborhoods through Amanda Williams's color theory photographs; the heartaches of family life, as in Annie Lopez's cyanotype-printed dresses; and even the struggle with breaking away from the anchor that is home through Hugo Crosthwaite's beautiful black-and-white life-size drawings. As a result, the show is not only a tribute to Cisneros's creation, it is a visceral response to the centrality of one's own experiences within a larger community. —Lucia Anaya

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