The Music Was Our Weapon: Artistic Responses to Crime and Punishment in Harlem and the Bronx (1965-1985)
A Presentation from Marcos Dimas
Marcos Dimas has dedicated his life to exploring the ways art can cinfluence how we the past, present, and possible futures. As the co founder of Taller Boricua, an artists' collective created in 1970, Dimas' work centers the artistic practices of the Taino, the indigenous people of Puerto Rico, to share ideas of ancestral knowledge.
His journey as an artist began at his home on a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico. As a child, he discovered shard of pottery carved with images created by the Taino. He also experienced European contributions to art by the ever-present religious iconography that adorned the walls of churches. Moving to the United States with his family in 1952, he experienced the sights and sounds of the city. Soon after graduating from the High School of Fashion Industries in 1963, he wa drafted into the Vietnam War and released in 1967 with an honorable discharge.
He enrolled at the School of Visual Arts. While attending S.V.A., he joined the Art Workers Coalition. The goal of the Coalition was to decentralize the art displayed in museums and re-distribute them throughout the local communities. In that period, his art was a hybrid of hard edge techniques, surreal and pop-art images.
In 1970, he graduated from the School of Visual Arts' Fine Arts program. Later that year, he co-founded Taller Boricua (Puerto Rican Workshop). A community based art group that served to create artist spaces and a creative support forum for ideas and a center for education.
Between the 1970s and 1980s, Taller Boricua maintained its philosophy of helping artists find a true initiative aesthetic and self-empowerment. To this day, Dimas has maintained his participation as a founding member of Taller Boricua as acting director, teacher, advocate and mentor.
This time marked his departure from using primarily European influenced aesthetics, strongly evident in his first solo exhibit at El Museo del Barrio in 1973. Using petro-glyphic images from the caves and stone styles of the Taino and incorporating them into automatic drawing excercises, Dimas' compositions functioned as a series of drawings and painting that signified the root of Caribbean culture.
Dimas has exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Forum's Gallery, Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Association of HIspanic Arts, Cayman Gallery, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Arts, Exit Art, Museum of the Americas in Puerto Rico, Hostos Community College and produced a documentary for PBS Channel 13. His work is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.
Dreams and Defiance: A World Re-Imagined, is an interactive program series and upcoming exhibition that explores the complicated links between social music and dance forms practiced in the Andalusia region of Southern Spain, Africa (Notably North, West and Central Africa) and throughout the Americas. Notably, the project emphasizes the cultural fusion of Muslim, Sephardic, Roma and North African cultures of Andalusia, vast multi-ethnic landscape of Africa and the Americas, and ways temporary celebrations, in the midst of unprecedented violence, influenced, and continue to influence the social music and dance practices of creolized cultures of the Americas. The work addresses the cultural exchange as a complicated, contested, ongoing process negotiated in expressive cultural practices.
The latest installment of thebrown bag series speaks to the art, activism, sexuality and public scholarship integral to the forthcoming innovative program series and exhibition. These informal discussions at the NYU Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies seek to share innovative new scholarship that blurs the lines between academic and public work.
This brown bag series is curated by Derrick León Washington.
Dreams and Defiance: A World Re-Imagined brown bag series is co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Music, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY