The University Art Gallery at the University of Redlands is currently featuring Colecciones, an exhibit by Professor Emeritus Raúl Acero, showcasing Acero’s Latinx experience and ancestral history as an immigrant artist.
“I've grown up in this country as an immigrant, and I [am] a brown person, a minority artist, and a minority faculty member,” said Acero. “When it came to making the art for this show, it was easy, because it was clear to me what I cared about.”
The handcrafted ceramic, acrylic, and digital composited pieces in Colecciones reflect themes in Acero’s work. According to the artist statement, "Natural history museums are my favorites because, there, I can be immersed in the artifacts of prehistory—works of nature, fossils, and ancient tools that show the processes of our ancestors. Like them, I work mostly with simple, earthbound materials such as raw pigment, clay, and wood to create figurative sculpture, pottery, and paintings."
Although Colleciones is not meant to be politically motivated, Acero was inspired by both contemporary events and the art of his ancestors: "I was inspired to produce [Colecciones] while I was on sabbatical, and when I was on sabbatical COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter was a tremendous upheaval in society, which influenced the work that I made a lot," he said. “There are these two big maps of South America and Columbia, and the map of South America is upside down reflecting the invasion by Pizarro and other Spaniards who invaded South America. The map of Colombia, where I was born, also traces the genocide and the invasion of Columbia by the Spanish.”
While personal reflection is part of each of his pieces, “Mosaico del Tiempo” proved to be the closest to home in this collection for Acero.
“I'm the keeper of the memories in my family, the one who kept all the photographs,” he stated. “I really like the old photographs a lot, so I have them of my grandfather. I found one when he was still maybe in his 50s, when he wasn't grandpa in his 70s. It's him and me across time, and like that it turned into a mosaic just by looking at it.”
Colecciones will be at the University Art Gallery until Sunday, Dec. 12. The Gallery is open from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.