Wooden dolls and street art (read: graffiti) representing the plight of Tica women who turn to prostitution as a means of survival and stunning photos of Nicaraguan immigrants working as maids in upper-middle-class Costa Rican homes make up just a small portion of an online exhibit recently launched by the International Museum of Women (IMOW).
Featuring the work of women artists and activists in Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina, the exhibit explores themes introduced in IMOW’s major international exhibit “Economica: Women and the Global Economy.” The “Focusing on Latin America” segment of this exhibit takes a look at how Latin American women have responded to the global economic crisis. It does so by examining domestic violence, the social status of marginalized groups of women, heavy workloads for rural women and continued dependence on remittances.
In the Costa Rican section of the exhibit, Peruvian transplant Cecilia Paredes uses the body and created environments to explore immigrants’ sense of belonging, while Lucía Madriz attacks traditional Latin American gender roles and machista business and agricultural policies in her project “Money Talks.” Sculptor Vanessa Biasetti takes a hard look at how economic tensions breed increased violence in the home.
Part of the project is a Q-and-A interview titled “Ticas and the Global Economic Crisis,” in which University of Costa Rica professor María Flórez-Estrada puts the project in perspective, citing unemployment, discrimination and underreporting of work as major challenges for Costa Rican women facing the economic crisis.
While the interview and other works are thought-provoking and serious in nature, Flórez-Estrada is optimistic. She explains that Costa Rican women are achieving higher levels of education than ever and are participating more in the labor market.
“More women are finding independence, and at the same time the country’s active women’s organizations continue to fight for [equality],” she says. “So there are many forces working together for change, and that is a reason to hope.”
The works featured in the exhibit share stories in a variety of mediums, such as photography, sculptures made from natural materials, body painting and mosaics. The online exhibit may be viewed at www.imow.org/economica/latinamerica.