An Introduction to Mapas

In this digital collection, developed by the Wired Humanities Projects at the University of Oregon, collaborators analyze works of art that reflect on the persons who have disappeared in Latin America at the hands of the state, both under the late-twentieth-century dictatorships impacted by the Cold War and still today. We are selecting works that help make these people "present" in our hearts and minds and call for justice and accountability. We are interested in the various media and the methodologies, conscious and unconscious, that artists use to push back against the oblivion and anonymity of disappearance.

Leonardo Ampuero Rodríguez, an artist who treats the theme of human rights in Latin America, has said that his goals are “to sensitize, question, call [people] to reflect and a self-questioning about the society in which we live.” [See Ciudadanía, igualdad,diversidad: Obras ganadoras, concurso nacional, “Arte y Drerechos Humanos 2014,” (Santiago de Chile: Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos, 2014), p. 50. Translation of the quote, by Stephanie Wood.] The artist Pilar Francisca Contreras González, also of Chile, demands of her art that it address “the moral condition of human existence.” And Joaquín Andrade Ermter expresses a wish that art “expand the conscience” and bring “collective healing” [See the 2015 volume of the same national prize for “Arte y Derechos Humanos,” pp. 46, 60.]

Additional works of art are currently under preparation and will be added in due course. If you have a piece that you would like us to include in this project, or if you would like us to get permission to publish a work that you might like to annotate, please get in touch with the general editor, Stephanie Wood, swood [at] uoregon [dot] edu.

This is a research collection, but it is also our aim that it will have a pedagogical application. We would like to work with teachers to apply the Visual Thinking Strategy methodology, developed by Abigail Housen at Harvard, whereby students can look at works of art and raise questions and seek answers about the details and their meanings.

Our cover image is a detail from a work by Oaxacan artist, Yescka, in protest of the 43 young men who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico, in September 2014.