"The projects documented in the Moses Ros Papers demonstrate how this artist of Dominican descent has negotiated African, African American, Latino, and Caribbean identities in his work. That negotiation takes place through language, sartorial mash-ups, and references to bachata music and dance. His art often features a figure wearing one sneaker and one sandal, simultaneously evok- ing the streets of New York and the beaches of the Dominican Republic. Two projects will be of particular interest to researchers investigating the history of African Americans in the United States: a sculpture dedicated to jazz musician Miles Davis, and a mural honoring literary polymath and early National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) executive James Weldon Johnson."
See the full note in Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 55, no. 2 (Fall 2016): 95-97.
Image: Moses Ros, preparatory sketch for God's Trombones I, 1999. Colored pencil and ink on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in. Moses Ros Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
"Known for her collages and photographs, Kathy Vargas (b. 1950) is an artist and college professor living in San Antonio, Texas. Catalogues, exhibition announcements, and professional correspondence in her papers demonstrate the significance of her practice for the histories of American photography, Chicano/a art, and feminist art. More intimate, personal letters with artists Judith F. Baca, Benito Huerta, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Mark Power, Jeff Perrone, Christopher Rauschenberg, and others underscore her reach in the contemporary art world.
Hallmarks of Vargas’s work include mechanically or digitally manipulated photographic scenes often based on memories and embellished with hand-applied color and handwritten text. A 1996 holiday card from Jim Goldberg, another artist known for incorporating text and applied color into photography, playfully demonstrates this shared working method (fig. 1). In his note to Vargas on the back of the card, Goldberg apologizes for not yet returning a loaned book, sheepishly admitting, “So this Rushdie guy has been sitting by my bed untouched for way too long.” A voracious reader who frequents local bookstores during her travels, Vargas lent Goldberg a new purchase (Salman Rushdie’s 1995 novel The Moor’s Last Sigh) when the two artists were in Washington, DC, for a planning meeting for the 1996 Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition Hospice: A Photographic Inquiry. We can imagine how the celebrated author’s work may have influenced both Goldberg and Vargas."
See the full note in Archives of American Art Journal, vol. 56, no. 1 (sPRING 2017): 86-87.
Image: Holiday card from Jim Goldberg, 1996. Kathy Vargas Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
"...Ojeda had a deep appreciation for literature, and he provided artwork for both the Washington Book Review and the Washington Post’s Book World. His papers contain examples of these and other literature-inspired creations, such as an undated watercolor and ink portrait fig. 1) likely inspired by Federico García Lorca’s 1929 poem “Oda a Walt Whitman.” Birds and fish are common in Ojeda’s lyrical prints and paintings, often referring obliquely to political conditions throughout the Americas. In this watercolor, however, these creatures signal Whitman’s deep appreciation for nature, invoking a line from Lorca that reads, “Ni un solo momento, viejo hermoso Walt Whitman/he dejado de ver tu barba llena de mariposas [Not a single moment, lovely old man Walt Whitman/have I ceased to see your beard full of butterflies].”
See the full note in Archives of American Art Journal: Fall 2017, Volume 56, Number 2.
Image: Naul Ojeda, portrait of Walt Whitman, 1977. Watercolor and ink on paper, 12 × 9 in. Naul Ojeda Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.