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Carlos Rolón was born in 1970 in Chicago, after his parents moved there from Salinas, Puerto Rico. From an early age, Rolón knew what he wanted to do in life, and it all started after he first visited a museum at age 14.

He studied painting and drawing, and was influenced by the New York City pop culture of the 1980s with all its hip hop, disco and punk. His passion for art has taken him around the globe, having sold out exhibitions wherever he goes.

With his exhibition at the NOMA, Rolón invites us to feel like we are about to listen to the laughter of our parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It makes us want to smell the food being cooked in the kitchen and we can almost listen to the salsas, merengues and bachatas harmonizing our days.

Carlos Rolón|Outside/Inallow us to see Rolón´s cultural identity and the diasporas his parents experienced. An experience shared throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.

The memory of his parents working in factories and making end meets by also working from home, a shared occurrence in our Latino and African American communities, has been part of his work and exhibitions. As well as his parents´ decision to not speak to him in Spanish.

Another part of this work presented at the NOMA is the section named Guild the Lily where he presents that the true ‘gold’ found by the colonizers was the flora and fauna. He even scratched some of the gold in his paintings as a way to interpret how the land was ravaged and stripped from its minerals.

“This recent work deals some touches on colonialism, and the destruction and also the beauty that has come out of that as well,” said Rolón. “A lot of what you see is based on memories or recovering items that you can no longer get. Or dealing with material like 24 karat gold, or dealing with ceramic floor tiling that is possibly over 200 years old and making a hybrid, but also the connection it has with New Orleans and the idea that the Spanish basically colonized most of the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and here in New Orleans.”

Inspired by his first experience in a museum, Rolón wants young people to see themselves in his exhibition. As he found his voice, his meaning, he also didn’t see people that represented him, a minority, a Latino, he didn’t see that in contemporary museums either. “It is really important for me that this exhibition is really welcoming to the community because I’ve also done my research here in New Orleans and I found that a large percentage of minorities that live here have never visited a museum. Even though they were born and raised in New Orleans, they’ve never made the trek to come here,” said Rolón, understanding that the art world and museums can have a very elitist system.

“The one thing I have to say about NOMA is that when we started working on this project and part of the exhibition, which deals with social practice, was that Katie Pfohl and the Director were very much supportive of my mission of including the community and that was a very key component of this exhibition,” says Rolón. “I’m very proud of this exhibition, is very personal, is a strong exhibition, we put a lot of work into it.”

Rolón hopes the power of word of mouth gets the community going and visit the museum to see his art work. He asks the community to not be scared to walk into the NOMA, they won’t be patrolled, looked over the shoulder. The museum is for the people.

The artist is now working on a hard bound publication of the exhibition at the NOMA which gives it a new life, and will allow it to live on. Rolón is also working on a new show that will open in Detroit April 7that the Library Street Collective. He’s also in a group show in Florida and he has several projects coming out during the fall.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this beautiful collection by visiting Carlos Rolón|Outside/Inat the New Orleans Museum of Art.


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