ChicagoRICAN is a curatorial investigation that will result in the design of an exhibit about the arts production of Puerto Rican artists in Chicago. The exhibit will show a chronological recount of the artistic production of the first Puerto Rican artists who migrated to Chicago in the 1950s, artists born and raised in Chicago, and other Puerto Rican artists who migrated at later times establishing studio spaces in Chicago and impacting the local arts community. The exhibit will reflect the history of the Puerto Rican migrant community as well as the issues faced in the process of building and claiming place in Chicago. The artwork will reflect personal and collective social issues depicted in a variety of techniques and media–from early community murals to today's contemporary expressions. The ChicagoRICAN exhibit will showcase artistic production within the context of community building in Chicago.
ChicagoRICAN is a curatorial project by independent community curator Jorge Felix. Through the use of social media Facebook, Felix developed the group “PuertoRican Artist Data Project” to survey Puerto Rican artists in Chicago. The survey gathers demographics on Puerto Rican artists as well as identifies undocumented community art projects that have been occurring since the arrival of Puerto Rican artists in Chicago. The survey sheds light on first generation migrant artists’ contributions as described by surviving artists and community leaders, as well as current art projects by contemporary artists. Findings from this survey will be used to support the curatorial research of the exhibit.
While ChicagoRICAN is an exhibit of immediate interest to the local Midwest population, the Facebook survey has sparked the interest of artists and communities abroad expressing interest in traveling the exhibit to other cities in United Stated and Puerto Rico. ChicagoRICAN immediately appeals to a Midwest community of 500,000 Puerto Ricans scattered after the 1960’s and 1970’s riots throughout Indiana, Wisconsin and the Chicago suburbs. Most important the exhibit will promote a dialogue on the contributions of migrant artists and the effects of their arts production in the building of contemporary America. ChicagoRICAN speaks about the process of migration from an artist perspective shedding light on the contributions of community artists in the building of Chicago neighborhoods.