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En Foco | In Focus

Selected works from the En Foco permanent collection

March 14, 2011 – May 16, 2011

OAS | AMA F Street Gallery
1889 F St., NW (Corner of 18th Street)
Washington, DC 20006

Hours MON-FRI 9 AM-5 PM





En Foco has developed the first permanent collection in the U.S. dedicated to U.S. based photographers of Latin American, African, Asian and Native American heritage. This collection creates a parallel history of photography by bringing together artists and images largely absent from the mainstream photography field and unseen by the public. The show is comprised of 56 striking prints by 48 contemporary artists of 21 differing ethnicities/ nationalities. The work dates from the 1970s to the present day, and offers a unique, valuable look at the missing history of photographers who used the camera to document their neighborhoods in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pressed for the inclusion of multicultural voices in artistic, political and media spheres in the ‘90s and those whom increasingly comment on both local and universal themes using the virtual realm in the present day. This exhibition and accompanying catalogue completes an often-unacknowledged part of modern photographic history.

En Foco's mission is to support the creation of work by photographers of diverse cultures, primarily U.S. residents of Latino, African and Asian heritage, and Native Peoples of the Americas and the Pacific. En Foco makes their work visible to the art world while remaining accessible to under-serviced communities, using photography as a vehicle to raise awareness and promote cultural equity.


Since its founding in New York in 1974, En Foco has nurtured and supported photographers of diverse cultures. Beginning with Latinos in New York, the focus of its initial efforts in the 1970s, it soon broadened its mission to embrace photographers of African, Asian, and Native American heritage across the United States. Its Permanent Collection encompasses not only a plurality of voices but also subject matter, photographic approaches, and points of view. This collection – representing images and artists that are largely absent from published surveys of photography, museum collections, and academic curricula in the field – can be seen as rich evidence of a parallel history of recent photography. The images presented in this exhibition offer an introduction into this significant photographic collection. The earliest works in the exhibition, dating to the 1970s and ‘80s, reflect the documentary impulse that characterized photographic work produced during and in the aftermath of the civil rights era. In contrast to photographic essays of the period exposing inner-city decay, these were images by individuals who lived in and understood the rhythms of life in these
neighborhoods. Cultural representation became self-representation, as the camera became a potent means of political and self-expression. The second part of the exhibition traces En Foco’s mission, as it broadened its scope beyond Latino photographers. In doing so, the organization reflected the multicultural discourse of the 1990s. Numerous photographers in this decade (and increasingly visual artists drawn to photography as a tool), deployed the medium to examine identity (racial, ethnic, sexual, gender-based), otherness, and the social and cultural contexts that shape perspectives on the self. The final part of this exhibition looks at En Foco in the millennial era, 2000 to the present day. The youngest photographers represented in the collection are truly reflective of the contemporary art scene’s global landscape. Whether dealing with local or universal themes, photographers of the current generation approach photography with great freedom, drawing from multiple photographic traditions, cultural histories, and creative modes. Nevertheless, for all of these photographers, the printed image remains profoundly valued for its endless capacity to document,
communicate, exhort, and express the continuing flux of life.

- Elizabeth Ferrer, Guest Curator

Jaishri Abichandani
Max Aguilera Hellweg
Sama Alshaibi
Don Gregorio Antón
Chuy Benitez
Louis Carlos Bernal
Dawoud Bey
Charles Biasiny-Rivera
Terry Boddie
Samantha Box
Roger Cabán
Valdir Cruz
Gerald Cyrus
Phil Dante
Ana de Orbegoso
Luis Delgado
Dean Dempsey
Lola Flash
Ricky Flores
Myra Greene
Muriel Hasbun
Germán Herrera
Kenro Izu
Nitza Luna
George Malave
Frank X. Méndez
Hector Méndez Caratini
Stephen Marc
Rania Matar
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew
Larry McNeil
Groana Melendez
Tony Mendoza
Néstor Millán
Delilah Montoya
Pipo Nguyen-duy
Dulce Pinzón
Bonnie Portelance
Sophie Rivera
Juan Sánchez
Kunié Sugiura
Jane Tam
Hank Willis Thomas
Hong-An Truong
Kathy Vargas
Víctor Vázquez
Wendel White

Text provided by enfoco.org

SPONSORS Archival Methods, Bronx Council on the Arts, Canson Infinity, The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Light Work, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts