BWAC’s new fall exhibitions celebrate Latinx artists and honor the Day of the Dead

BWAC latinx exhibit
The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition is closing out the season with three new exhibitions, including “Dia de los Muertos and Ofrendas,” an interactive exhibition with art depicting Day of the Dead traditions and a community alter.
Photo courtesy BWAC

The Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition  — or BWAC — last weekend celebrated the opening of its new fall exhibitions — including its first-ever Latinx gallery exhibition. 

The new exhibits — “Dia De Los Muertos” “Somos LatniX” and “Background Story” feature collages, landscapes, sculptures, and more. “Somos Latinx” features works from U.S.-based visual artists from Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and more. 

“We want to be inclusive, we want to be diverse, and I think this show really says it,” BWAC board member Tamavis D. Santiago told Brooklyn Paper. Since not all of the artists are local, the community has a chance to view or purchase artwork from out of state and even from as far as Madrid, Argentina, and Brazil.

BWAC latinx painting
“Somos LatinX” is BWAC’s first exhibition featuring Latinx art and artists. The show includes works from artists hailing from Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic who now live in the U.S. Photo courtesy BWAC

“I’d love [Brooklynites] to come see the work because a lot of it is very unique,” Santiago said. “This is the first Latinx exhibit at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition.” 

The show also features special guest artist: distinguished Cuban-American artist Sita Gomez de Kanelba. De Kanelba’s paintings, like “Dreams of Cuba,” which she painted as a remembrance of her life in Cuba, and her dreams of the paradise of her childhood, depict traditional Cuban dress, and other symbols of cultural importance.

“Anybody who has studied art history, or history of Cuban artists, will really be drawn to that one,” Santiago said. Gomez is now in her 90s, and is the subject of an upcoming documentary about her life as a Cuban-American during the Cuban Revolution. 

BWAC day of the dead
Community members are invited to leave gifts and offerings on the altar at “Dia de los Muertos and Ofrenda,” an interactive exhibit at BWAC. Photo courtesy BWAC

BWAC also created interactive activity in its “Dia De Los Muertos” exhibit — an ofrenda, or altar, for the community to fill with gifts as part of the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition of leaving offerings for those who have passed.

If a child makes a piece of artwork they can display it on the altar until November 20th, and then everybody picks up their work,” Santiago said. In this way, guests are able to contribute to the exhibit as well, and celebrate the tradition of bringing gifts such as food, pictures, poetry, and art, to those who have passed. 

The third new show, “Background Story”, gives visitors a glimpse into the artistic process behind the works in the exhibit. The pieces on display will be placed alongside narratives describing the process of their creation.

BWAC fall exhibition painting of boat
Works like “Astro Venus” will hang alongside an explanation of how they were created and what they mean in “Background Story,” one of three new exhibits at BWAC. Photo courtesy BWAC

New artists who are just beginning their career were given the opportunity to contribute to the exhibit — it’s the first show many of them have been featured in, Santiago said.

“They had really great stuff, they didn’t realize how good they were, and when they saw it set up on the wall and people are going to come see it … I mean they lit up, it has really inspired them to go do more,” he said. 

BWAC’s fall exhibitions will be on display through Nov. 20, 2022. The gallery is open to visitors every Saturday from 1-6pm at 481 Van Brunt St. near Reed Street in Red Hook.