The Highpoint Center for Printmaking’s new show focuses on artists from Oaxaca

Jessica Chrastil isn’t an artist, but when she arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2015, she felt like she’d found a home similar to the one she left in Minneapolis at 18 to San Francisco then New York.

In New York, she had been employed by a nonprofit that worked with artists, artisans, and businesses around the world, but she felt disconnected from actual creative work. Something had to change.

“I was like, ‘If I keep saying I’m going to move to Mexico, then I will,'” she said.

Seven years ago, she saved up and went for it. Living in Oaxaca has awakened the possibility of reconnecting to home, family, history and community; in 2016, she founded the organization/artistic residence Pocoapoco there with the help of local creatives.

Now, six years later, she’s back in Minneapolis with a collective of eight multidisciplinary artists from Oaxaca. This Friday, they will make their artistic debut in Minneapolis with “Que Conste/For the Record” at the Highpoint Center for Printmaking.

“Oaxaca has a very long history of printmaking,” said gallery director Sara Tonko. “We always seek to offer examples of printmaking in other parts of the world to show that not only is it not an ultra local thing, but it’s not a dead art technique.”

The exhibition features 28 works by multidisciplinary artists Adriana Monterrubio, Evelyn Méndez Maldonado, Alicia Jiménez, José Ángel Santiago, Marco Antonio Velasco Martínez, Yatiní Domínguez, Santiago Rojo and Ana Hernández. The art explores a variety of topics including the exploitation of the sea through overfishing, the beginning and end of the Zapotec culture, Spanish colonialism, the potential impact of nuclear war, gentrification, and depictions of women of the Isthmus of Oaxaca region. All works incorporate printmaking in one way or another, but not all artists have experience with printmaking.

Minneapolis House

Chrastil – who acknowledged that it took her a long time to navigate and think about what it meant to move blindly to a place she didn’t know and where she didn’t know anyone – credits the collective and the artists of Oaxaca the realization of the possible space.

“My friends who are sitting here have been really helpful and kind thinking about what [the space] should really look like the responsibility that comes with it,” she said.

In Minneapolis, the exchange between the two cities continues with Chrastil presenting the artists and their work. Previously, the eight artists had never worked together, but once Highpoint offered an exhibition, the show began to come together.

“We suddenly had a goal, something to work on,” said curator Fernanda de la Torre Ricaud. “The conversation started to revolve around the question of how can this group of multidisciplinary artists use printmaking as a discipline, as a way to expand their practices?”

One of the artists in the exhibit, Marco Antonio Velasco Martínez, will be teaching a one-print portrait class in Spanish on June 26 (already sold out) and works with printmaking, but others were new to the medium.

“Conversations have started to move around the idea of ​​the impact of migration, globalization, how land resources, culture, change or change or adapt to these transformations of space physical, body and culture in general,” said de la Torre Ricaud. “…And also the ability to decide what to call yourself instead of being named by someone else.”

Language is also part of the conversation, and not just between Spanish and English. Part of that is thinking about what a common language might be between artists from different creative and cultural backgrounds.

“What is lost in translation and also what is gained in translation?” Chrastil said.

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“Que Conste / For the Record”

Opening: June 17, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W Lake St., Mpls.

Information: 612-871-1326 or highpointprintmaking.org.

Hours: 9am-5pm Mon-Fri, 12pm-4pm Sat.

When: Ends July 16.