Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion Part I: Otras Americas

As someone who loves to travel and has been fortunate enough to visit several places around the world, my favorite part of the world has to remain Central and South America. It’s hard to describe the beauty and wonder of that part of the world and I’ve nearly given up trying, you just have to see it to believe it. You have to live it to believe it.

That said, one thing that has happened to me once or twice, and to practically all of my traveling companions is a conversation roughly like this:

“Hey, where are you from?”

“I’m from America.”

“You don’t say, we’re in America right now.”

“This is Peru.” Or “This is Mexico.” Or “This is

“Well, that’s part of America too. It’s called ‘South America.’”

And that’s when you see it hit home for the second person in the conversation. It’s a subtle correction that non-USA’ians assert, and correctly so. Everyone, worldwide, has some level of ethnocentric attitude, but in the United States, it’s much more. We expect people from other parts of the world to bend to our whims, so speak English, to drive on the same side of the road, and in the hustle and bustle of it all, we tend to forget that we are only 300 million people in a world with a population of over 4 billion, that English is not the most-spoken language in the world (third, behind Chinese and Spanish).

I think the problem arises with the fact that most citizens of the United States have never traveled to another country. Somewhere upwards of 95% of the population here do not even have a passport. If you compare that to Europe, it’s quite the opposite. We are a geographically large country, which means our borders are separated by thousands of miles of plains. We’re boxed in by two oceans on the east and the west and Canada and Mexico to the north and the south, and those borders have a relatively small population. Additionally, we spend countless dollars and man-hours trying to figure out how to keep Mexicans out of the country and how to get oil rigs into Canada, all in the name of ‘our fragile economy.’

Without building a stage out of a soapbox, I think it’s fairly easy to see how the citizens of this country have been bred to see themselves as a people alone in the world. We ignore Darfur, we ignored Tibet until it threatened the Olympics, we are baffled by the violence in Iraq and the Middle East, and back home the leading story is the price of gas followed by an interview with a no-nonsense Sheriff in Arizona that is trying to legalize hunting of illegal immigrants. That’s basically the limits of the worldliness of ‘the people of the States’.

Getting to the point, as I mentioned earlier, you have to see it to believe it. I am happy, no… that’s not the right word… I’m proud to have the opportunity to take part in a photography exhibit in Wichita, KS during the month of May entitled Otras Americas, or ‘The Other Americas’ that will attempt to dispel the vicious rumor that we’re the only nationality in the world.

The concept of ‘Otras Americas’ is that there are Americas other than the U.S. of A, it’s just that we were the only ones uncreative enough to put it in the name of our country. North America, Central America and South America contain a vast number of countries and diversity of people and that we are united by the geography of our lands. While we share the "American" surname with Latin Americans most honkies really don't know much about "other" American cultures in general or the differences and nuances between them. Most gringos tend to think of the Latino culture as essentially Mexican - whether out of racism or out of ignorance.

Curated by my father, Skippy Sanchez, the exhibit will feature photographers from around the world showing pictures from around Central and South America (we could have included Canadians, too, but we all know they're not as photogenic), including:

Johnny Sutton- Guatamala

Georgia Sutton- Costa Rica, Cuba

Dale Strattman- Ecuador, Galapagos

Bill Pearce - Buenos Aires and Uruguay

Skippy Sanchez- Mexico, Honduras

Jaime Oppenheimer- Brazil

Luke Hutmacher- Peru

Ken Engquist- Mexico

Neil Marcus- Caribbean

Michael Pointer- Mexico

Gino Salerno- Haiti, Peru

This is my first ‘art’ exhibit and I’m scared stinkless at the moment. Mucho props to my dad for, first of all, seeing something in my work and inviting me to join, and second of all, helping me through the thing by basically doing everything for me from printing to framing to telling me that pictures of me riding an alpaca are probably not appropriate for a photography exhibit.

Here are some more details:

Where: City Arts, Wichita KS

When: Artists Reception May 2, 2008

Why: There may be some booze.

Featuring an oral presentation and discussion by Sonja Bontrager, assistant professor of Spanish and foreign language chair at Newman University.

So please, if you’re in the area, why not stop by and say ‘I could do that’ to a couple of my pictures, like I’ve done to countless other pictures and paintings in my life and see some works (yeah, I’m callin’ them ‘works’ now) that I decided not to put online.


emawkc said...

Awesome opportunity for you. Congrats!

Anne said...

Hi Luke,
We are excited to see some of your work. We have it on the calendar!
See you then!
Anne & Chuck

Logtar said...

Congrats on making the exhibit :) that is really cool.

I think your post is very true. I have all but give up trying to tell people how much they miss by being so closed minded... in a way my post from today is weirdly related to yours.

Spyder said...


"(we could have included Canadians, too, but we all know they're not as photogenic)" Hey watch that!

Cullen said...

congrats, man! i hope to manuver my schedule to come see some of your "works";)

Sonja said...

Thank you for your wise words, Luke. The conversation you cite echoes a very humbling one I had years ago on another continent. I'll share it at the exhibit. I look forward to meeting you soon.

Lucas said...

thanks everyone! i'm quite excited, this is going to be a pretty cool experience, hopefully one that i'll get to repeat from time to time!
- Luke

John B. said...

emawkc was kind enough to send me a link to this post because of interests I have in Mexico (and Latin America more generally). As a Wichita resident, I'm very much looking forward to seeing this next month.