‘EL SUEÑO: THE FLOWERS THAT BLOOM’ spotlights dance company, film at Henry Art Gallery | Galleries Museums


On view from November 21 to April 3, “EL SUEÑO: THE FLOWERS THAT CLOSINGlights up the lobby of the Henry Art Gallery as soon as you enter. The exhibition highlights the dance company EL SUEÑO and their upcoming film of the same title, scheduled for screen March 25-27 at the Northwest Film Forum and eXit SPACE NOD Theater.

To the left of the installation, a brief quote from the dance company’s founder, Alicia Mullikin, sums up the significance of the images in the exhibit: “First generation Americans are the flowers that bloom after generations of harvest.”

Mullikin, a first-generation American, said she came from a family of Mexican immigrants. The sacrifices made by previous generations of her family so she could pursue her dream of dancing inspired the quote featured in the exhibit.

“It’s this idea that there are generations of support that has allowed me to be in a position now where I can…follow my American dream,” Mullikin said.

EL SUEÑO means “dream” in Spanish, and Mullikin explained that it is inspired by the idea of ​​the “American dream”. Part of her company’s vision is to create a safe space for people of color to participate in dance environments traditionally perceived as Eurocentric.

The left wall features a scrolling video of shots and excerpts from the contemporary dance film, as well as snapshots of the dancers. These clips provide insight into the fluid movements and interplay of light and landscape that will be shown in the feature film. Mullikin collaborated with Devin Muñoz, another Mexican-American dance artist, to create this film as a representation of “what it means to be powerful brunette women and to be the narrators and illustrators of their own stories”, according to dance company website.

Along the corners of the lobby and around the central image of the company logo are three-dimensional light-up paper flowers that visually represent the quote on display. The flowers are a powerful representation of the community involvement invested in this space. Hand-folded by dancers, as well as other community volunteers in dedicated workshops, they symbolize that “many hands are involved… in creating more equitable spaces,” Mullikin said.

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In working with Mullikin to curate the exhibition, Henry’s Associate Curator of Public and Youth Programs, Mita Mahato, said the gallery focused on creating space for the artist’s vision and l providing opportunities for community engagement.

Mahato highlighted the ability for visitors to write their own dreams on flower cutouts and pin them to the wall as a meaningful takeaway.

“You read people’s dreams on this wall and it’s just very encouraging, especially in this time when it’s so hard to dream, it’s so hard to imagine because [of] everything we deal with around us,” Mahato said. “And again, I think that’s why I love EL SUEÑO’s work, because it’s so focused on healing and…dreaming.[s]and… how do we create pathways for that dream.

The company logo in the center of the installation associates the “hard figure of chola with the nurturing Virgin Mary”, and around the flowers is “an ofrenda – an altar built to honor ancestors and lost loved ones”, according to the exhibit description. The image brings together the dueling ideas of a strong and tough female gangster and a holy, motherly and beautiful woman in Mexican culture, Mullikin said.

Mullikin’s mother sometimes had to physically fight others at school to protect herself while living in the Compton area of ​​Los Angeles, an area she described as extremely dangerous. To support the family, Mullikin’s mother worked three jobs.

“That woman that’s tough and rough and that image that’s motherly and beautiful — I think we all kind of have those two things in us,” Mullikin said. “It’s not that you’re one or the other. It’s that as a complex human, you can kind of jump between the two. And I think we see that especially with women of color.

Mullikin noted the exhibition’s simultaneous engagement with the past and the future as its main theme.

“It’s this idea that by honoring those in your past, … you can create a safe space for those in the future,” Mullikin said.

Tickets for the premiere of the film “EL SUEÑO” and the following celebration at the NOD Theater are available in line. According to Mahato, plans are underway to build on previous community workshops by hosting a community healing day in April with reflective activities led by local artists and healers. The exhibition will be extended until April 17.

Contact writer Julia Park at [email protected] Twitter: @thejuliastory

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