Jennifer Dasal is on a mission.
The associate curator of contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art is dedicated to bringing Latino graphic art and illustrations out into the mainstream.
"There's a lack of diversity and so few Latino illustrators and art in books," she says. "It's still a homogenous field - but still, Latino people are creating characters as works of art."
She's mounted two shows that open at the Raleigh museum in mid-April. One, Estampas de la raza/Prints for the People: The Romo Collection, is a series of 61prints that chronicle the unique heritage, history, and experience of contemporary Mexican American and Latino artists. At the same time, Tall Tales and Huge Hearts: Raúl Colón, is an exhibition of children's book illustrations by Raúl Colón.
Estampas de la raza comes from the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. Tall Tales and Huge Hearts is on loan from the National Center for Children's Illustrative Literature in Abilene, Texas, which is dedicated to furthering an appreciation for children's books and educating them in the arts.
"With a lot of families and schools, art's the first thing that's cut in an economic downturn, so books may be way for children to see art for first time," she says. "It's a way to sneak a little art back in."
The Estampas de la raza exhibition is an inspirational collection of works by 44 Latino artists, with images of Bobby Kennedy, Cesar Chavez, and Che Guevara.
"It deals with issues connected to struggle and being small," she says. "The struggle is everything from immigration issues to the Chicano movement of 1960s."
Tall Tales and Huge Hearts focuses solely on Colon's illustrations for children's books and features images of the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Roberto Clemente.
"People believe that illustration is not art but that's not true - it can be understood on same level as any art," she says. "So we wanted to show some fantastic illustrations that are beautiful and endearing - and show how great they can be."
The exhibitions run from April 13 through July 27. For more information, go to http://www.ncartmuseum.org/
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated that both Tall Tales and Huge Hearts: Raúl Colón and Estampas de la raza/Prints for the People: The Romo Collection are on loan from the National Center for Children's Illustrative Literature in Abilene, Texas. In fact, the former comes from the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. The post also stated that images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Roberto Clemente are included in Estampas de la raza. They actually appear in Tall Tales and Huge Hearts. The post has been updated accordingly.
J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications. He also publishes a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com, where portions of this post first appeared.