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Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay is an exhibition featuring the work of Sila Chanto (Costa Rica, 1969-2015) and Belkis Ramírez (Dominican Republic, 1957-2019). Chanto, beginning in the 1990s, and Ramírez, beginning in the 1980s, radically transformed the language of printmaking. By introducing experimental techniques, both women advanced new ways of discussing the body, power relations, architecture, patriarchal violence, and environmental issues in deeply conservative and racist societies. This show is the first international revision of both artists’ works after their passing in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

This exhibition proposes a conversation between these two prominent artists from Central America and the Caribbean, stressing their remarkable intervention into misogynistic systems and male-dominant narratives. Their prolific bodies of work include drawings, installations, paintings, videos, and innovative prints using paper, fabric, and wood. The exhibition highlights their exploration of figure and form as well as pattern and texture.

Chanto’s revolutionary printmaking techniques involved scale, material, and installation previously unimagined for the form. Her work highlighted the body’s mark on the world by incorporating embodied memories onto public spaces. She portrayed ghostly imprints that address disenfranchisement and belonging, as well as the perishable and fragile nature of life.

In contrast, Ramírez’s printmaking and wood engraving often used abstract patterning to explore the vulnerability of the body. Using life-size human figures, her work also investigated gender stereotypes, sexual harassment against women, and the emotional and physical ramifications of migration and the representation of Caribbean bodies at large.

Both artists tended to work in large-scale prints and installations, often featuring life-size figures in compositions critical of male-dominated social narratives. Their works, emphasizing feminism and political dissent, brought the implications of these patriarchal societies to light for the viewer to understand their role in upholding such structures.

Aquí me quedo/Here I Stay is curated for the ICA by Miguel A. López. The exhibition is coordinated at the ICA at VCU by Executive Director Dominic Asmall Willsdon.

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