Our Eyes IV

nine young, emerging
Colombian artists’
perspectives on 21st-century
environmental and
social justice crises

March 2015 Los Angeles × Honolulu × Boston × Durham × Medellín

In collaboration with
Universidad Nacional de Colombia • Emerson College • Punahou School • Bank of Hawaii • Duke University

About Through Our Eyes

Nine young, emerging artists and two faculty artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín will exhibit photography, video, sculpture, animation, 3-D mapping, sound, and public performance. Each of their projects will also become part of a research thesis. This is their U.S. debut. They follow three previous exhibits with 19 artists.

Their art engages with themes of reclaiming land, farming and home amid a recent history of violence and scarcity; negotiating complex gender norms and family; memory, modern life and indigenous perspectives and living in ongoing situations of forced displacement and self-settled neighborhoods.

Their art also reveals how they negotiate two intertwining contexts of violence and innovation: (1) being the generation born when Medellín was known as the most violent city in the world and (2) emerging two decades later as young artists in a period of pioneering city-led urban and social interventions, marked by the Urban Land Institute’s naming of Medellín, in 2012, as “The Most Innovative City in the World.”

Their art also reveals the empowering agency of community blogs, media and graffiti as alternative and inclusive forms of knowledge production and circulation. Running through the marrow of this exhibit as a whole is a call for us to reflect on what we all have in common: our humanity. One artist’s work, for example, reminds us of the stories that our skin—specifically our scars—tells about how we are unique and connected.

Their work is a perspective, an intervention, and an invitation for diverse audiences to engage with art and artist.

We integrate publications, pedagogies, and practices of writing with those of art, architecture, science and social science. Students, artists, researchers and faculty at three universities in six cities in two countries are collaborating on this exhibit: Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín, Emerson College in Boston and Los Angeles, Punahou School in Honolulu, and Duke University in Durham.



Daniela Álvarez
Tania Camila Ausecha
Magreth Batista Zapata
Cristina Echeverry Bermudez
Camila Florez Quintero
Nataly Marín Quiceno
Juanita Salamanca Olano
Flor Eliana Salazar Bustamente
Andrés Felipe Valencia Murillo

Directors, Advisers, and Curators

Tamera Marko, Ph.D.

Tamera Marko specializes in what she calls the “theory, politics and practice of rhetorical mobility.” She does this through transnational translingual, multimedia community literacy research projects in the Americas (Spanish, Portuguese, English). She channels her work as an historian of Latin America and her 17 years of teaching writing to combine genres of new media, composition and historical memory to research and publish in the genre called for by each project. Marko’s academic, media, video and poetry publications explore youth and motherhood human rights projects. She also works on issues of gender, class and white privilege in the Americas. Over the last seven years, she has founded and co-directs three interrelated rhetorical mobility projects in collaboration with Emerson College, MIT, Duke University, and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín.

Her work has been featured in academic journals, film festivals, galleries, theaters, and universities and on television in Medellin, Rio de Janeiro, Durham and Boston. For the last six years she has been working on theory and practice of transnational pedagogy she calls pedagogscapes. She is especially concerned with negotiating rhetorical situations and writing necessary for storyteller and her story to cross borders. Marko collaborates with storytellers who, for various reasons of inequitable geopolitical, economic, race and gender power relations, have the least access to rhetorical mobility.

She is currently Director of the First Year Writing Program at Emerson College in Boston and a Faculty Affiliate at Duke University and at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín. She teaches transnational translingual research writing courses in English, Spanish and Portuguese. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, a master’s degree in Latin American Studies and Communications and a Ph.D. in Latin American History with an emphasis on Women’s Studies and Race and Ethnic Studies.

Ryan Catalani

Ryan Catalani, a senior visual and media arts major at Emerson College, focuses on the intersections between creativity, technology, and storytelling, with a civic and multicultural emphasis. He graduated from Punahou School in 2011. Since starting at Emerson, he has worked on Proyecto Boston Medellín, a transnational multimedia exhibition, and medellín mi hogar, a documentary archive being created in collaboration with 750 displaced women and their families. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Berkeley Beacon, the college’s student-run newspaper. His photography, design, and video work has been recognized by the EVVY Awards, the college’s annual student awards show. He founded Junction, a monthly cross-disciplinary showcase for creative work at Emerson, and co-founded Bookzingo, a new way for college students to buy and sell textbooks.

Jota Samper, Ph.D.

Jota Samper has been working as an architect and artist for more than 13 years and has been teaching architecture and urban design. He was born and raised in Medellín, Colombia. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín. Since then, he has done art, architectural, urban and civic engagement projects in six countries: Colombia, Panama, the United States, Mexico, India and France. His work has won more than 5 national and international awards, including the Progressive Architecture Award two times. His work, as part of “Small Scale, Big Change: Architectures of Social Engagement” was on exhibit at the 2011 MoMA. His research seeks to understand if policies and practices that have both political and physical implications in the urban context are directly related with the reduction of violence (number of homicides) in Medellin during the 2003–2007 period.

Luis Eduardo Serna
Associate professor and director of the art programs at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sede Medellin

Since I was 16 years old, I have been working in the audiovisual environment. Starting as an animator making in-betweens in traditional animation projects gave me a glimpse into how narrative works with audiences. Situated in the artistic field and in the theoretical field, my main research project has been to build an expanded experience through telling a story. This way of working gives me the opportunity to write and produce for television. It also gives me the understanding that the effectiveness of a story is not just in its construction and structure, but it is also in the way that people get involved, they way they embrace (or not) the story, not as a final product, but rather as a process of saying something.

As an artist, I have shown my work in the most important Museums and Art Galleries in Colombia, including events such as the Biennial of Art at Bogotá at the MAMBO, the Medellín Biennial at the Museu de Arte Moderno de Medellín, The Young Artist Exhibition at the Santa Fé Gallery, and with other collective exhibitions at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, and the Cámara de Comercio de Medellín. As a writer and producer I am working with projects like Guns N’R4, a road movie project lead by 4B1D Creative Group and The Allegiance Theater.

As a teacher, I am working at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín in the undergraduate program of Fine Arts and the Master’s Program of Visual Arts. In both, I teach constructing narrative into a Fine Arts Project and how this can transcend rhetoric through developing different experiences with works of art. At the Universidad de Antioquia’s Communications Program, I also teach the development of stories for television projects.

Juan Luis Mesa S.
Associate professor of art at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sede Medellin

Juan Luis Mesa has worked as a professor in the School of Arts at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín for 20 years, which has allowed him to develop, in parallel ways, his work as an artist, a teacher and a researcher. He has been especially interested in the relationship between object, space and the city as well as the teaching of sculpture.

He studied art in Medellin and then was awarded a scholarship by the Organization of American States to pursue a Masters degree in Sculpture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) between 1988 and 1991. He became a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellin in 1993. He has been focused on the teaching of sculpture with an emphasis on the notion of sculptural object, the relationship between object and space and between art and public space.

He is currently starting a new research project on the teaching of sculpture in Colombia. He seeks with this project to build networks with universities that promote pedagogy through boom (auge) and audiovisual media.

As an artist, he has been exhibiting his work since 1982. He has received several awards, including the First Biennial of Art in Bogotá in 1988, the Regional Hall of Artists in 1997 and an honorable mention in the Salón Nacional de Artistas in 1998. He was chosen to participate in the exhibition “Art Installation in Antioquia,” which will be held in November 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art of Medellin. He has published several articles about his practice, theory and pedagogy of sculpture, including “Narratives on Urban Art,” published in the book Experiences, Talk, Stories, Narrative and Speeches on the City. Medellín 1975–2001.

Edgar Arroyo Castro
Dean, Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín

Professor Edgar Arroyo Castro is the Dean of the Department of Architecture and Art at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín. He is originally from Buena Ventura, a port city on the Pacific Ocean in the Valle del Cauca in Colombia. Before coming to Medellín, Dean Arroyo founded and directed university research institutes and cultural centers in Buena Ventura and the surrounding region, where the population is predominantly from diverse Afro-Colombian communities and indigenous tribes.

Given that Colombia is the world’s most biodiverse country and for the last sixty years has experienced environmental degradation of its tropical regions and water sources, his work with people intersects with environmental issues. He also has worked with international research groups in Latin America, India, Africa and Europe. For 45 years, Professor Arroyo has been dedicated to research, pedagogy and cultural collaborations between academics and community members. He focuses on increasing access for Afro-Colombians, women and all Colombians of color to healthcare, education, housing, employment and the means to self-define, sustain and represent diverse cultures and ways of life.

He has published two books: A Study in The Improvement of Settlements Located in the Watershed of the Yesca Creek / Estudio de mejoramiento de los asentamientos localizados en la microcuenca de la quebrada la yesca and Planning: Tools for Preventing Disasters?” / La planifación: herramienta preventiva en DESASTRES?” He published a groundbreaking article “The paradoxes of development in the Pacific Ocean Region of Buena Ventura: a port without city, a city without a region.” / “Las parádojas del desarrollo en el pacífico Buena Ventura, un puerto sin ciudad, una ciudad sin region.”

He has produced documentary video on these subjects and regions, including “Guayaquil” and “La Yesca.” At the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, he has been Director of the School of Representational Media; Director of the Office of Popular Community Housing and Urban Communities (Hábitat Popular CEHAP) and Director of the Architecture Program. Professor Arroyo also is a salsa scholar and has his own Saturday radio show—Oye como suena / Listen To How This Sounds—dedicated to keeping music with African roots throughout the diaspora in circulation in Colombia and throughout the Americas.

Through an Emerson College Presidential Curricular Innovation Fund Grant, matched by funds from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Dr. Tamera Marko and Dean Arroyo are collaborating on deepening their last four years of university-community collaborations between more than 300 students, faculty and staff at Emerson College in Boston and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín.


Emerson Los Angeles

Reception with artists
Thursday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.
5960 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Punahou School

Exhibit at Kirsch Gallery
Opening & reception: Wednesday, March 11, 3:30 p.m.
Closes Friday, March 20
1601 Punahou St., Honolulu (see map for Kirsch Gallery location)

Duke University

Reception with artists
Saturday, March 21, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
York Room, Gray Building (Second Floor), West Campus