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Exhibition Title?

El Otro Lado, 4 American Artists


Filter Photo is pleased to present an exhibition by the artist collective, El Otro Lado, 4 American Artists.


El Otro Lado, 4 American Artists is a collective of 4 Mexican-American artists who use artistic labor to explore the dynamics of injustice and the status of being "illegal." Using the camera as a tool for the visual language of exploited labor, these children of immigrant families document the undocumented and visualize their inherited generational trauma. American media presents a narrative of Latinx bodies crossing the Mexico-U.S. border illegally to take resources from American citizens. They fail to acknowledge that people are fleeing Latin American countries because of the crisis imposed on their homeland by the United States. The Southwest United States was Mexican land and still Native land. While deciphering where our identity belongs, our families are impacted by the effects of this narrative when their labor is exploited or when threatened with deportation. With the growing population of Latinx people at around 58.9 million, the discourse for those wrestling with this narrative must be heard.


Today, there is slow momentum for the support of Mexican-American artists in established institutions. However, inclusion or acceptance is not the main priority for the artists in El Otro Lado, 4 American Artists. We exist in the borderlands and Chicago, visualizing our domestic terrors and pleasures. Taking matters into one's hands is a mode of survival for the families represented in this exhibition. On another level, the artist takes matters into their own hands by creating still lives and portraiture of their genealogy, using their bodies to outline borders, and tracing their history through the archives.


Mirroring the themes of dual identities, migration, and labor within the gallery space, Carol Bedoy's video piece, HOME, represents an abstract displacement mapped out with the narration of her family's nomadic archive. Plastered onto a 4'x6' plywood panel, Sophie Lopez's Untitled incorporates wheat pasting as an act of reclamation of her personal archive. Jennifer Teresa Villanueva documents the flux of her domestic life through large-scale environmental portraits, portraying her parents, grandmother, and brother. Finally, Maximiliano Cervantes collaborates with his father to represent invisible laborers in the borderlands by performing How-To guides that demonstrate their resourcefulness while confronting the viewer with their gaze.

Carol Bedoy is an artist who uses photography to create dream-like imagery to discuss difficult topics surrounding migration, belonging, and identity. The symbols embedded in the images are directly inspired by their own family archives between Chicago (USA) and Aguascalientes (MEX). This exploration of visual storytelling as a tool to heal from traumatic experiences is set with a goal of representation and agency for a misunderstood and underrepresented community.

Through photography, video, and installation, Maximiliano Cervantes investigates the borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. He collaborates with his father to show the relationship between a father and son, while at the same time making visible technology at the border, immigration, and the exploitation of labor. Cervantes holds a BFA  from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has attended ARS Electronica Festival University in Linz. At SAIC, he received the Fred Endsley Memorial Fellowship, Deans Grant, and a Merit Scholarship. Recently he was recognized by LensScratch as one of The Top 25 to Watch. His work has also been published in Untitled 2019 by Work/Play Press, available at Printed Matter, INC.


Sophie Lopez is a Chicana artist working with photography and sculpture to dislodge imperial histories imposed upon her family's living archive. As the daughter of undocumented parents, immigration policy has dictated many of Lopez’s lived experiences, from major to minor inconveniences. In being “othered” by congressional policy, her parents have continually navigated themselves around ever-evolving patchwork legislation. These bureaucratic ballets have cemented an understanding between the artist and the United States government; to be in constant opposition of one another. She utilizes the familial narrative as a vessel to discuss the urgent need to revise the “past”. Expanding the space of factual exchange, by using her mother’s living and breathing archive as the source of material and inspiration. Questioning the notion ofevidence because it dictates what can be considered valid but not real. And when applied to reading photographs, questions of authenticity begin to arise around what is plausible and tangible.

Jennifer Teresa Villanueva is a Mexican-American photographer born and raised in Chicago, IL now currently based in Austin, TX. Her photographic work concentrates on the ways ethnicity, citizenship, geography, gender, and class contribute to American society and its understanding of itself. She currently documents the life of her immigrant grandmother’s journey of survival as she goes through hospitalizations and dialysis due to Chronic Kidney Disease. Villanueva also researches and documents the history and experience of her immigrant parents’ migration and labor in the United States. Her family’s life examines the sociological, historical, medical, political, and economic processes that have led through their migration and how it affects the immigrant lived experience. These photographs are carefully staged and candid as each gesture and composition symbolizes a narrative about culture, transnational identity, and belonging in the United States. Villanueva graduated with a BFA with an emphasis in Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2021) and is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin (2023).

This exhibition is partially sponsored by The Illinois Arts Council Agency.


Exhibition Dates: June 23rd - August 4th, 2023
Gallery Reception: TBD
Location: Filter Space | 1821 W Hubbard St, Suite 207
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11 AM – 5 PM

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