NEW ORLEANS – Newcomb Art Museum is pleased to announce it is reopening to the public on Saturday, May 22 with the exhibition Transcommunality, featuring the work of multi-disciplinary artist and activist, Laura Anderson Barbata. Transcommunality opened to the public virtually on January 19, 2021, and is on display through October 2, 2021. The museum will be open Saturday through Tuesday, 10 am to 4 pm this summer. Entrance is free but timed tickets required; information can be found at newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu.
The Mexican-born, New York-based artist engages a wide variety of platforms through her collaborative, process-driven practice, which focuses on issues of cultural diversity and sustainability by blending political activism, street theater, sculpture and arts education. Since the early 1990s, Anderson Barbata has initiated projects with people living in the Amazon of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Norway, and New York, bringing public attention to issues of civil, indigenous and environmental rights. Each of Anderson Barbata’s projects is infused with the grounding principal of respect encapsulated by reciprocity.
Collaboration and the preservation of indigenous knowledge are at the center of Transcommunality, as Anderson Barbata says, “Transcommunality is a concept and way of life that is not restricted by borders or strict definitions. It is invigorated through exchange of knowledge and conversation and is based on respect and amplifying the voices of tradition-keepers.” The exhibition on view at the Newcomb Art Museum is made up of five collaborations from across the Americas presented together for the first time. Though varying in process, tradition and message – each of these collaborative projects emphasizes Anderson Barbata’s understanding of art as a system of shared practical actions that has the capacity to increase communication around topics of cultural diversity and to create sites of human connection or belonging.
Featured projects such as Intervention: Indigo include characters that reckon with the past to address present-day systemic violence and human rights abuses. The Repatriation of Julia Pastrana demonstrates Anderson Barbata’s effort to critically shift narratives of disability, human worth and cultural memory. Earlier works crafted with the Yanomami and Ye’kuana peoples, as well as Anderson Barbata’s most recent works, profoundly consider the impact of an individual on their local community’s future, through actions of reciprocity that are both intentional and organic.
Transcommunality offers a space to contemplate ritual, folklore and the impact of the natural environment on culture. Anderson Barbata’s globally diverse collaborators celebrate the human experience by consciously reviving intangible cultural heritage and resisting homogenization by deploying skills inherent to the survival of their local expressions. Performance documentation and stunning garments throughout the museum invite onlookers to connect with the traditions of West Africa, the Amazon, Mexico and the Caribbean while exploring and connecting more deeply with the exhibition’s visual narratives.
“It is my belief that a shared artistic social practice can serve as a platform on which we connect, learn, exchange, create, and transcend borders in order to activate our sense of belonging to a global community,” says Anderson Barbata. “My work seeks to further the expectations of socially-engaged art by involving collaborators such as archives, scientists, activists, musicians, street dancers, and artisans to create works that operate both inside and outside of the art world.”
The exhibition is free for all to visit; timed tickets are available for registration at the museum’s Eventbrite page. Information about the museum’s free exhibition tours, Newcomb Pottery collection tours, Tiffany Window tours, and ongoing virtual programs can be found at newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.