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2019 Peter C. Marzio Award Winners Announced! |

The ICAA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 edition of the Peter C. Marzio Award for Outstanding Research in 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art. Named for the late, longtime director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), who supported the establishment of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) in 2001, the award recognizes emerging scholarship that makes innovative use of primary source materials and critical documents in the ICAA Digital Archive. The Peter C. Marzio Award for Outstanding Research is presented with the support of The Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology, Houston. This year’s winners are:

First Prize: Amalia Cross, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
“HISTORIAS DE BOICOT: Sobre las causas y consecuencias de la participación de Chile en el boicot a la X Bienal de São Paulo, 1969”.

Honorable Mention: Sonja Elena Gandert, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
Una fe de justicia social: Liberation through Print and Word in Antonio Martorell’s Salmos

Their essays will be published in the expanded Working Papers series, forthcoming later this year.

The ICAA received an impressive number of excellent graduate-level submissions; however the Peter C. Marzio award committee singled out Cross and Gandert’s essays for their undeniably creative and rigorous use of archival documents.

The award committee unanimously agreed that Cross’s essay “Historias de boicot (…)” best fulfilled the goals of the prize by creatively using ICAA documents to drive an innovative line of inquiry. Cross’s project takes an archival discovery as its point of departure, a catalogue of an exhibition that was never realized (Chile en la décima Bienal de San Pablo): “Este documento me llevó a constatar la ausencia de Chile en la Bienal y su adhesión al primer boicot internacional organizado por artistas y críticos de arte de todo el mundo. Un boicot que fue una forma de protesta contra la censura y represión de la dictadura militar en Brasil.” The award committee stated that the essay provides “an interesting new angle on the boycott of the São Paulo Biennial and the birth of other biennials in late 1960s and early 1970s Latin America based on archival sources (from various countries) and other primary documents. This text brings new knowledge that connects many dots and would, as a published text, expand the literature on Chilean art during this key period.”

In her Honorable Mention award-winning essay, “Una fe de justicia social,” Sonja Gandert makes ample use of archival sources to provide a sustained analysis of Salmos, a single “graphic-literary” portfolio of woodblock prints by Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell. The series takes as its point of departure the eponymous collection of poems by Nicaraguan priest, poet, politician, and activist Ernesto Cardenal. Despite Martorell’s professed ambivalence toward organized religion, Gandert here forwards an original reading of the role of religion in the artist’s work: “Through close analysis of the copresence of images and text in the Salmos, Martorell’s meticulous artistic process in producing them, and the phenomenological modes of engagement the prints demand of the viewer, I argue that the portfolio can be linked to rituals of Catholicism more generally and to the tenets of Liberation Theology—espoused by Cardenal and others—more specifically.” The award committee averred that “the portfolio and religious aspect of Martorell’s activist work during this key period are worthy, original subjects.” The author cites a total of twelve ICAA documents and thus offers a means of tracing the reception of the print series, which is something the ICAA archive is particularly suited to.

Amalia Cross is an art historian and curator. Her research projects and publications focus on twentieth-century Chilean and Latin American art history, with a special emphasis on exhibition histories and the study of museum collections and archives. She completed her M.A. in the history of art at the Universidad de Chile. She is finishing her PhD in history at the Universidad Católica de Chile (CONICYT fellowship) with a dissertation titled “The Museum in Times of Revolution. The transformation of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes of Santiago during the Unidad Popular, 1969-1973.” She currently teaches at the Instituto de Arte of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile.

Sonja Elena Gandert is a Ph.D. candidate in art history at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research examines postwar and contemporary Latinx and Latin American art, with geographic emphases on Chicanx artists in the Southwest as well as art in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and their U.S. diasporas. She served for four years as curatorial assistant at Cornell University’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. As an independent curator, she also organized exhibitions of contemporary art in Ithaca and Brooklyn, New York and Havana, Cuba. Since 2015, she has served as a co-founding Executive Committee member of the U.S. Latinx Art Forum. In summer 2019 she was a fellow in the Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Museum Studies Program. She holds an M.A. in art history and museum studies from Tufts University and a B.A. in Spanish and linguistics from Brandeis University.

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