El Museo del Barrio Hosts First Triennial Exhibition

Museums and other institutions have long made their mark with recurring art exhibitions, held every two or three years, that are designed to survey the field in an expansive way. In New York City, the most notable example is the Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial show, which is set to take place again in 2022.

Now, another institution in the city is joining the current fold: El Museo del Barrio, the Manhattan museum that focuses on the art and culture of Puerto Ricans and Latin-American communities in the U.S., is offering its first triennial exhibition, set to open Saturday.

Called “Estamos Bien—La Trienal 20/21,” the show features works by 42 Latinx artists and art collectives from throughout the U.S. El Museo officials said “Estamos Bien” is intended to be broad in its outlook—the artists come from several states, plus Puerto Rico, and represent various cultures, from Chicano to Dominican. They added that the show reflects the importance, relevance and strength of this diverse community of creators.

“Estamos bien” translates from the Spanish as “We’re good,” though officials said the phrase, echoing the title of a song by the Puerto Rican musical artist Bad Bunny, is intended to be both positive and sarcastic. The title also refers to a painting featured in the show, “Estoy Bien” (“I am good”), by the New York-born and Chicago- and Michigan-based artist Candida Alvarez.

The exhibition is borne from “the level of exclusion that the Latinx community is facing,” said El Museo executive director Patrick Charpenel. He and other officials note that much of the museum world remains European-centric in its approach, with Latinx artists represented only marginally in permanent collections or exhibition calendars.

Alice G. Collins

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