Martin Ramirez: The Archive and The Repertoire

THU, NOV 6, 2008 (45:39)

Martin Ramirez (1895 - 1963) created hundreds of drawings of remarkable visual clarity and expressive power within the confines of DeWitt State Hospital in northern California, where he resided the last 15 years of his life. Ramirez had been codified primarily as a “schizophrenic artist,” but the American Folk Art Museum exhibition goes beyond the boundaries of Ramirez’s diagnosis of mental illness and considers the artistic quality and merit of his artwork. In this way, Ramirez’s works are understood — and appreciated — for the complex, multilayered drawings that they are. Dr. Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, former associate director for creativity and culture at the Rockefeller Foundation, explains that the imagery of many American self-taught artists is held mainly in the “repertoire” — that is, the oral tradition. His talk explores how Martin Ramirez’s artwork has moved from the repertoire to the official archive. This event was held at the American Folk Art Museum.

+ BIO: Tomas Ybarra-Frausto

Tomas Ybarra-Frausto was formerly the Associate Director for Creativity and Culture at the Rockefeller Foundation. At the Foundation, he developed the Fidecomiso Para La Cultura Mexico-Estados Unidos (The US Mexico Fund for Culture), a bi-national initiative that supported individual artists, humanities scholars and institutions creating new paradigms for mutual understanding, cooperation and reciprocal knowledge-sharing between the two countries. He served as Chair of the Mexican Museum in San Francisco and the Smithsonian Council, and has written and published extensively on Latin American and U.S. Latino arts and culture. In 1998, Dr. Ybarra-Frausto was awarded the Henry Medal by the Smithsonian Institution.

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