Campus Life, Community, International, News

Artist displays work at UM, discusses immigration in America

IMG_9764[9] (1)-2.jpg

Nicario Jimenez stands in front of his artwork, which depicts a group of immigrants struggling to cross the U.S. border. Photo credit: Anna Timmons

Many colorfully painted wooden structures stood around the room Oct. 30 inside the University of Miami’s Kislak Center, each filled with a different story and made with carefully crafted figurines. Spanish words buzzed around the room as guests commented on the artwork. Most attendees were seasoned art historians and professors familiar with these wooden pieces, known as retablos. The artist behind the whole display, Nicario Jimenez, watched from the side, reserved and smiling as guests pondered his work and friends shared their praise.

Jimenez is a Peruvian artist renowned for his fresh take on retablos. All of his intricate and colorful retablos consist of wooden and often multi-compartmental structures that vary in size and have different scenes displayed inside through the use of small, handcrafted figurines.

At the event, guests walked around to explore these art pieces before listening to a panel discussion between several experts and Jimenez himself about his retablos. They spoke about the art’s significance in today’s political climate, focusing on what the displays convey about immigration in America.

Carol Daman, one of the panelists and a professor of art history at Florida International University, spoke about the importance and ingenuity of Jimenez’s work.

“He’s a pioneer moving typical folk craft into subject matter that is so different,” she said. “He is an artist brave enough to break tradition and make his own tradition in a sense.”

Retablos are a very important part of Peruvian folk art. Spanish priests originally used them as portable shrines during their long journeys, but the native peoples in South America adopted retablos after colonization. Indigenous nations, including the Incas in Peru, began to use retablos to tell their own stories.

IMG_9784[4] (1)-2.jpg

A retablo that depicts the lives of immigrants before, during and after their immigration Photo credit: Anna Timmons

Rather than only focusing on traditional Peruvian culture, the majority of the retablos in Jimenez’s collection feature the stories of different immigrants. These retablos depict scenes addressing what Jimenez described as the poverty and strife many immigrants face in their countries of origin, the difficult process of coming to the United States and the strenuous, often menial work that they must do to survive once they get here.

“I wanted to show the everyday life, and every day is not always happy for these immigrants,” Jimenez said.

IMG_9780[4]-2.jpg

Jimenez shows his artwork to event attendees. Photo credit: Anna Timmons

Jimenez’s work is largely critical of the American attitude towards immigrants and the common stigmas against them. One of his most recent pieces depicts the separation of families in Texas detainment centers. He said his next retablo, which he is currently working on, will be about the migrant caravan headed through Mexico to the US.

Jimenez said each retablo can take up to several years to make.

“I work alone and make each figurine with just my hands and a small piece of wood to shape them,” Jimenez said. “I learned this technique from my grandfather back in Peru and I carry on the tradition through my work.”

November 5, 2018

Reporters

Anna Timmons


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

UM’s recruiting class — comprised so far of 14 non-binding commitments — has dropped to 40th overall ...

University of Miami basketball player Dewan Hernandez, who has missed the first nine games of the se ...

Anthony Solomon will head north for his college football career. The St. Thomas Aquinas linebacker a ...

A day after naming Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke co-defensive coordinators, the Miami Hurricanes ...

It doesn’t matter if the number is actually 21 or it’s just what Jeremiah Payton estimates now. Twen ...

Feelings of depression and anxiety rise during the holidays, but there’s plenty you can do to keep u ...

The Foote Fellows Honors Program offers students added flexibility to pursue multiple academic inter ...

Commencement speakers share gems of insight and wisdom as more than 1,000 UM students graduate in tw ...

During a news conference Wednesday, a UM medical team talked about the clinical findings after exami ...

Your one-stop shop for University of Miami fall commencement information. ...

The No. 24/22 Miami women's basketball team turned in another stellar defensive performance Sun ...

Hurricanes Name Banda, Patke Co-Defensive Coordinators; Promote Simpson to Associate Head Coach ...

The Hurricanes hosted their annual Football Awards Show Saturday at Gusman Hall, honoring the 2018 S ...

World Series champion and UM baseball All-American Jon Jay will headline the 2019 First Pitch Banque ...

Fall graduation ceremonies held Thursday at Watsco Center. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.