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Alberto Rey featured in Journal of American Studies’ essay
Friday, June 10, 2016

Alberto Rey featured in Journal of American Studies’ essay

SUNY Distinguished Professor Alberto Rey

The art of SUNY Distinguished Professor Alberto Rey of the Department of Visual Arts and New Media is explored in the essay, “Seeing in the Dark: The Aesthetics of Disappearance and Remembrance in the Work of Alberto Rey,” in the May issue of Journal of American Studies.

University of Nottingham Lecturer Stephanie Lewthwaite examines how contemporary Cuban American artists have experimented with visual languages of trauma to construct an intergenerational memory about the losses of exile and migration. How Mr. Rey layers individual loss onto other, traumatic episodes in the history of the Cuban diaspora is addressed in the essay.

In Rey’s series “Las Balsas (The Rafts, 1995-99), he explores the impact of the balsero (rafter) crisis of 1994 by transforming objects left behind by Cuban rafters on their sometimes ill-fated journeys to the United States into commemorative relics. Rey’s visual language transmits the memory of grief across time, space and generational divides by playing on the memory of absence and misplacement of objects found along the migration route in the Florida Straits.

Rey's visual strategies are part of an “extended memory” tied to the aesthetics of disappearance and remembrance in contemporary Cuban American art.

Through his use of objects as powerful memory texts that serve to bring fragmented autobiographical, family and intergenerational testimonies of loss together, Rey suggests how visual artists can provide more collective, participatory and redemptive models of memory work.

Ms. Lewthwaite, a member of the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, is the author of “Race, Place, and Reform in Mexican Los Angeles: A Transnational Perspective, 1890–1940” and “A Contested Art: Modernism and Mestizaje in New Mexico.” Her interests include contemporary Latino/a visual culture and memories of place.

The Journal of American Studies critiques and interrogates the notion of America through international perspectives on the history, literature, politics and culture of the U.S. It publishes works by scholars from all over the world on American literature, history, institutions, politics, economics, film, popular culture, geography and related subjects in domestic, continental, hemispheric and global contexts.

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