New Feature from the Con Edison Immigrant Artist Newsletter No. 69

In this month’s feature, we were excited to talk with Colectiva 21 in preparation for their upcoming show La Crisalida, at NYFA’s Gallery in DUMBO, Brooklyn. The exhibition opens this Friday, May 29 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM and highlights 23 artist participants of NYFA’s first international Boot Camp program in Guatamala, who formed an artist collective after the program. IAP chatted with one of the founding members, Brenda Kanne, to learn more about the mission and activities of Colectiva 21.

NYFA: We first met you through NYFA’s 2013 “El Artista Como Emprendedor.” How did Colectiva 21 emerge from the Boot Camp Program, and what led the collective to become an entity of its own?

Brenda Kanne: Colectiva 21 was born out of the inquietude and emotion that arose after the workshop that NYFA gave in Guatemala. This was a great experience for me and also helped me meet many artists, including Analú Castlejon, Andrea de Leon Fagiani, Gustavo Chacon and Waseem Syed, with whom we have made, from the beginning, a great enthusiastic and supporting team. I realized we had a lot in common, especially the desire to create, to present our work and to build an artistic community. With the enthusiasm of starting this adventure, my daughter, Alessandra, joined the project and together we have been making Colectiva 21 grow. When we organized the first exhibition, in November 2013, we received much support from NYFA, especially David C. Terry, who guided us in the process of creating Colectiva 21. Alessandra later participated in the second NYFA workshop in Guatemala in August 2014.

NYFA: What is the mission of Colectiva 21?

BK: We are a platform that supports artists throughout their careers, promotes Guatemalan art and connects the artistic community. We provide opportunities for emerging artists or those who want to expand their borders. We promote art for the children and youth communities of Guatemala. We organize exhibitions, courses and training sessions for art lovers.

NYFA: What are some of the past and future projects of Colectiva 21?

BK:The first two exhibitions we organized took as their theme “Living from the Heart”, and in both, 21 invited artists participated. They created artist interventions with antique pieces of wood, like the traditional “escaparates” and windows from Guatemala. The first exhibition was held in The Museum Ixchel of Guatemala to benefit Fundación Teoxche in Guatemala, and the second was held in the Gallery from Fundación G&Tfor the benefit of their social works. This year, in addition to the exhibition “La Crisalida” in New York, we are organizing an exhibition with Fundación G&T that will be held in November in Guatemala.


NYFA: The strength of Colectiva 21 lies within the diversity of its individual members, how do you highlight the different work while maintaining a unified vision for the group?

BK: Communication is very important and with it we try that at the start of each project that everyone agrees and understands the group’s vision, and are willing to engage for the good of the collective. We also plan meetings at different stages of the project, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

NYFA: This is the first opportunity for many in the group to exhibit in New York City, do members of the group see La Crisalida as a vehicle to share the work of contemporary art in Guatemala, and what would you like the public to know about contemporary work in Guatemala?

BK: Yes, for most artists it is the first time exhibiting in New York and this is a great opportunity that NYFA is giving us. Chrysalis refers to the stage when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. The idea of this transformation or metamorphosis is symbolic of the changes that are happening in the art world in Guatemala, and with this exhibition we aim to introduce to New York and to an international audience, the incredible work of many Guatemalan artists and the evolution that is taking place in the country.

NYFA: How can interested parties find out more about Colectiva 21 and its future projects?

BK: We are always interested in new artists to include in the Collective and work on new projects. You can contact us by mail to [email protected] or through our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/colectiva21

To read this article in Spanish, please click here. To learn more about NYFA and “El Artista Como Emprendedor” experience in Guatemala, read ourspecial report from the Con Edison Immigrant Artist Newsletter, Issue #43. To read more about Colectiva 21 in Vida Magazine, Guatemala, click here.

Images, from top: 

Lissette Girón, Moviéndose todo el tiempo / Moving all the Time, 2013, Digital Photograph; Ana Lorena Nuñez, El despertar de la conciencia / The awakening of the conscience, 2015 Photographic transfer on aged aluminum and reclaimed wood

Amy Aronoff
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