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April 1, 2023, 3-8pm
Vanguard Sculpture Services
3374 W Hopkins St, Milwaukee, WI 53216  



2023 jurors

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Jovanny Hernandez Caballero is a fourth year Art and Design major with an emphasis in Photography and Imaging at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. His work explores themes of his cultural heritage and identity, as a first generation American and descendants of Mixtecs. Through his photography, he documents the beauty of Milwaukee's South Side and his family's native land of Oaxaca, Mexico.

From the first steps of my ancestors in the mountains of Oaxaca, to my parents’ first steps in the United States, my family lays the foundation of who I am. The Ñuu Savi/Mixtec, "People of the Rain," have passed down their culture and traditions through oral history for generations. Poverty, drought, and a lack of work opportunities have caused many to migrate. Family history and traditions start to fade away and our native tongue will soon be extinct. My first memory of learning about my cultural history was when I was a child going on a field trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum. Museums have long taken the cultural identity of others and isolated it, reducing them to a dead object behind glass. I saw items my parents still use today be referenced as relics of a primitive past, clothes my siblings and I still wear being used as display props, and the very few archival photos that exist of our history showed our identity in a stereotypical fashion.

I grew up looking at my identity behind glass at a museum and through a camera. Every year I try to make one trip back home to my parents’ native land. My documentation of this journey serves as the only true archive of our indigenous community. The use of analog photography acts as a method of reverse anthropology where I am reconstructing the history that has been ignored, lost, and forgotten. My senior exhibition will be focused on displaying the photos and objects I have collected: photos of the landscape where my ancestors would hunt with bows and arrows, the village my parents grew up in and my family, whom I only get to see once a year; objects of our past, such as stone arrowheads found in my father’s land, items used for traditional ceremonies, and my mother’s rebozo (shawl) which has been passed down for generations but was left behind 23 years ago. The display of these images and objects will follow the practice of institutional museum curation but through my perspective. Photos will be shown in a light box and objects will be shown in a custom light table both being on timers where the viewer will only have a couple seconds to see the work. This replicates my own reality of only being able to experience my family and home for a few moments each year.