And when the child asks, “where is your favorite place?” I will say, “Here. This is my home.” The anatomy of the soul is the Earth. Every molecule of their imagination, forming oceans of ideas. A child of the Universe, dreaming of beautiful things during this long night of isolation. Keep dreaming child, I will be there when you wake. Love can-not be quarantined. – A. H. and N. A.
About the Exhibition
Since February, Oklahoma resident and Chicano artist, Narciso Argüelles has been teaching at one of the top high schools in Europe, Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey. Graduates from this high school go on to MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Oxford, Kings College and other prestigious colleges all over the world. On a semester long teaching and artist residency, Argüelles spent his first month learning the procedures of his new school and getting to know his students. He then began exploring the city and getting a sense of the art scene as research for the new body of work to be produced during the residency. Then the COVID-19 crisis started, and the school transitioned into distance learning. Under safety orders from the government students under 20 years old are not allowed out of their homes.
School has officially closed till the end of May, but ART DOESN’T STOP. Argüelles teaches AP Photo and two regular photo classes, and he was determined to give his photo students a meaningful and rich experience. So, he developed projects that were engaging and real world. This included developing and editing an online photo magazine featuring their work. And a photo installation on campus called ART DOESN’T STOP. Argüelles assigned students to do self-portraits depicting their mood during the time of isolation. They emailed them him the images and he printed them in the photo room using transparency film for inkjet printers. He displayed them on the many windows on one of the hallways, creating a stain-glass effect.
Through generous partnership with ahha Tulsa and Robert College the work is present here as a virtual exhibition.
Argüelles’ new body of work is displayed alongside his students. Titled Love Poems and other Graffiti it is a play on the book of poems by Savannah Brown titled Graffiti (and other poems). The work can be described as post-graffiti and it is a love poem to Istanbul and to the human heart of perseverance. He writes, “One of the street terms for a graffiti artist is a ‘writer’. I have always enjoyed that term. To be clear I don’t consider myself a street artist. I describe myself as a Chicano multidisciplinary artist. What poem would I write about my time in Istanbul? A Chicano in Turkey. A citizen of the world during a global pandemic. This is the premise of my new work.”
About the Artist
Argüelles grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. He moved across the border into San Diego when he was nine. Being a child of two nations informed his art. Argüelles explores issues that are important to his people; he recognizes the Indigenous side, the Spanish side and the mixture that make up his culture. Sometimes he celebrates his culture. Sometimes he makes art to protest an injustice. All with the hope to bring about social and political change and to inspire people.
*Featured Image Credit: Yağmur Makascı, Digital Photo, 2020