The Pérez Art Museum Miami Is Launching a New Fund Dedicated to Latinx and Latin American Art

The museum aims to become a leader in the field.

Teresita Fernández, Eclipse (2002). Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, gift of the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York. Photo by Oriol Tarridas.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami wants to cement its status as a leader in the study and presentation of work by Latinx and Latin American artists—and it’s making its ambitions clear with a new initiative. On November 13, PAMM will launch the Latin American and Latinx Art Fund, which will underwrite dedicated exhibitions and programs at the museum.

The effort comes as museums across the country are working to explore underrepresented areas of art history—or, put more simply, art history that doesn’t just tell the story of work made by white men. But while revisionist shows have received wide acclaim in recent years, they remain difficult to produce.

“Fundraising for exhibitions can be difficult anywhere at anytime,” Franklin Sirmans, PAMM’s director, tells artnet News. “Add to that [a situation in which] you are talking about artists who aren’t the usual suspects.”

The new fund—which will be financed through dues from participating board members, including the museum’s namesake donor Jorge M. Pérez—is a natural fit for an institution in Miami, where the local population is 70 percent Hispanic and many Latin American expats have chosen to live. But a dedicated endowment ensures that the museum will produce exhibitions and scholarship in the field in perpetuity, no matter who is in charge, Sirmans notes.

The effort follows the launch of two other successful affiliate groups at the museum: one dedicated to acquisitions of work by African American artists and another dedicated to female artists. (Unlike the African American fund, the Latin American and Latinx art fund will support exhibitions and research, not acquisitions.)

There has been a significant uptick in museum attention to the work of Latin American artists over the past decade, driven by support from dedicated collectors and a flowering of scholarship. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of doctoral dissertations in the field grew by 300 percent, according to research by Adriana Zavala, an art history professor at Tufts University. Last year saw the launch of the Getty-funded initiative Pacific Standard Time: Latin America/Los Angeles across Southern California and, in 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in New York announced it would establish a research center dedicated to the study of Latin American art.

On the other hand, American institutions have historically paid less attention to the work of Chicano and Latinx artists. PAMM’s effort hopes to correct that imbalance. The new project will officially begin with Latinx Art Sessions, a two-day conference presented by PAMM and ArtCenter/South Florida on January 24 and 25. “We’re still at that point where it’s an examination of the term,” Sirmans says of the gender-neutral “Latinx,” a word now often used instead of “Latino” or “Latina.”

On December 4, coinciding with Art Basel in Miami Beach, PAMM will open solo exhibitions of work by the Peruvian artist José Carlos Martinat and the Portuguese-born, New York-based filmmaker Pedro Neves Marques.

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