NEW BRITAIN-As part of the ongoing New/Now exhibition series at the New Britain Museum of American Art, New York-based and Chilean artist Francisca Benítez will have her work on view beginning today.
The NEW/NOW series is dedicated to emerging and established contemporary artists. Held concurrent to the bicentennial of the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Benítez’s exhibit will present new and existing works on paper and videos that trace her exploration of American and Chilean sign languages through poetry, music, dance and visual art.
Although Benítez was originally trained as an architect, throughout her career she has explored intersections between language, space and politics through differing types of forms like drawing, photography, video and performance.
In recent years much of her attention has been increasingly to deaf culture and sign language, something she was inspired to do in part because of her father, who became deaf as a child, and the struggles deaf communities go through.
Led by her interest in fostering encounters between deaf and hearing communities within art spaces, Benítez has created performances and collaborations at institutions such as El Museo del Barrio in New York; SITE Santa Fe and the New Mexico School for the Dea; The High Line in New York; and the Museo de Artes Visuales in Santiago, Chile.
Benítez’s NEW/NOW exhibit will present three videos and three photo-based works produced over the past five years that reflect the coming together of art, poetry, dance and performance with sign language.
Two videos focus on themes of poetry, dance, and music in particular. The earliest work, “Canto Visual (Visual Song), 2013,” comprises documentation created during a month-long artist’s residency at the Museo de Artes Visuales in which Benítez and collaborators transformed the art museum into a temporary sign language school, offering LSCh (Chilean Sign Language) classes, interpretation workshops, as well as dance rehearsals and performances.
The artist’s newest work, “Studies of Rhymes with Handshapes, 2017,” comprises photographs of 37 ASL handshapes, which will be utilized in a two-day poetry workshop with ASD teachers and students. The prints will be annotated by the students in the process of creating poems and then installed in the exhibition at NBMAA.
Francisca Benítez’s NEW/NOW exhibit will be on display through April 20 at the museum.
Hours of operation are Sunday through Wednesday and Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is free for members and children under 12, $15 for adults, $12 for seniors ages 62 and up and $10 for youth ages 13-17 and students. Saturday admission is free from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
For more information, visit nbmaa.org or call 860-229-0257.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ADeRosaNBH