Exhibit to display the beauty and intrigue of Mexico

The exhibits, featuring ASARO prints, begins Jan. 25.
The Misericordia University Pauly Friedman Art Gallery will display the beauty and intrigue of Mexico in two exhibitions that feature the colorful landscape paintings of Elma Pratt and the rebellious artistry of the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca or ASARO beginning Jan. 25 on campus.

Together, the separate exhibits offer a unique examination of the vibrant colors and picturesque countryside of Mexico, as well as the history of artists expressing socially relevant issues through their artwork.

The “La Tinta Grita – The Ink Shouts: ASARO – Revolutionary Mexican Prints’’ exhibit features work by a collection of young Mexican artists, known as ASARO, who express themselves and respond to the city’s political turmoil through art. The woodblock prints were born out of the revolutionary fervor that enveloped Oaxaca City in 2006. Protesters sought social reforms and justice, and demonstrated in the streets before occupying several government buildings and barricading numerous areas of the capital city.

The protest continues today in a struggle pitting political and social groups against the powerful state government. ASARO’s remarkable woodblock prints are part of Mexico’s long tradition of popular revolutionary art. The artists sell their prints for about 100 pesos, roughly $10, in and around the public square in Oaxaca.

ASARO’s work has been exhibited throughout Mexico, at UCLA’s Fowler Museum and at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas. The Misericordia exhibit will feature Kevin McClosky’s collection, a professor of graphic design at Kutztown University who purchased the pieces during a visit to Oaxaca.

Misericordia University religious studies professor, Stevan Davies, Ph.D., met McClosky while they were participating in the National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored Community College Humanities Association’s 2007 summer institute, “Oaxaca: Crossroads of a Continent,’’ in Mexico. McClosky will talk about the fellowship the two shared with 21 other scholars and ASARO’s work during a 45-minute gallery in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 3 p.m. After his presentation, there will be a question and answer session. The opening reception of the exhibit will follow from 4-6 p.m. in the gallery. Both events are open free to the public. The exhibition runs through Feb. 27. In the “Mexico in Color’’ exhibition, Pratt uses vibrant colors in her silk screen paintings on silk to place the viewers at the time and place of their creation. The bold designs allow the viewer to see what Pratt saw and experienced. She spent several years traveling throughout Mexico, encountering the many different types of people and their various cultures. She spent most of her time in the southernmost regions of the country, close to the Guatemalan border, where the scenery became the subject matter of her works.

Some of Pratt’s paintings are bordered by unique designs, some with very traditional origins. In the painting “From the Mountains of Oaxaca”, Pratt explains that the border design was inspired by the motifs on the belts worn by a pair of twins. During fiestas, a Mexican dance called “La Pluma” is performed. Native to the small village of Santo Tomas, the spirit, essence and strength of the dance are captured and retained in the faded wools of the twins’ belts.

The two exhibits of Mexican paintings and prints is open free to the public during gallery hours. The hours are: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 1-5 p.m. For more information about the show, please call (570) 674-6250.