FEATURED THIS WEEK!
Meet Anabel Vázquez! Anabel is an artist and curator based in Boston, MA. It was an unexpected but great surprise to have met her in Milledgeville, GA at the Georgia College Museum where her art and co-curatorial work Carry-On: Puerto Rico Inspected is being exhibited. The day before the opening and with the exhibition set-up in the background, I had the chance to sit with Anabel to talk about her trajectory.
Boston is Anabel’s home since 1998, when she transferred from the University of Puerto Rico to Mass Art (Massachusetts College of Art and Design). The creative atmosphere she encountered at Mass Art, alleviated the cultural shock she felt in her transition from Puerto Rico. At Mass Art she majored in photography with a minor in film, skills she masters in her practice by mixing photography with painting and film.
Anabel’s move to Boston coincided with major political and social clashes in Puerto Rico such as a general strike provoked by people’s unrest about the privatization of the telephone company, and the struggle against the U.S. Navy’s military presence in the island-municipality of Vieques. Looking at these situations from a distance and immersed in another culture, made Anabel realize and value the unique combatant nature of her people back in Puerto Rico.
The social atmosphere after September 11 also had great impact on how she saw people feel and act in her surroundings. In 2002, for the commemoration of the anniversary of 911 she was invited by legendary avant-garde filmmaker Saul Levine to participate in a one year anniversary 911 show that he curated at his weekly show Massart Film Society. Soon after she was inspired by the other artists and their work in the 911 show, and invited some of them to be part of her first series of monthly multimedia shows at the Zeitgeist Gallery in Cambridge, From the first show, Kill The Body And The Head Will Die, the core of Esprit de Corps Art collective was conceived.
Focused on political art and in mixed media, Esprit De Corps Art Collective traveled to many cities to share the message. The collective was an international mix of people reaching 15 artists at a time, being Anabel the only Latin American. At this point it became very important for Anabel to continue her work in Boston. for spreading the word about what is going on in Puerto Rico and make the connections with the activism in the U.S.
Since then she has done many curatorial work focused on exchanging cultural values through art. For this she has brought international artists to Puerto Rico, as well as Puerto Rican art to other international cities. Discordia Films, is one of the curatorial projects in which Anabel collaborates with Argentinian and Chilean colleagues for showing international films through tours around South America, North America and Europe.
Anabel currently works in different contexts: as digital archivist of antique collections at the Boston Public Library; manager for a film professor; and also frames exhibitions. Living at one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. requires great sacrifice, reason for which Anabel considered moving back home to continue graduate studies. This plan was abruptly stopped when a curator position at La Galería at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, a program of Boricuas Inquilinos en Acción.
Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción is a non-profit organization that serves low-income communities in Boston, mainly Puerto Rican communities. This organization’s history goes back to 1968 when a group of Puerto Rican activists came together to take control over the displacement of their neighborhood. With this organized effort by the community, Villa Victoria was approved and the government of Boston granted the land.
Anabel has been the curator since 2010 of La Galería. Through this position she has been able to bring Puerto Rican artists to Boston, and more recently invite Beto Torrens to co-curate Carry-On: Puerto Rico Inspected.