Over the weekend, La Casa Cultural — the Latino Cultural Center — transformed into an art exhibit, complete with two-way mirrors and sound effects.
The show, which highlights the variegated history of the 19th-century building that Yale converted into the cultural center in 1977, was conceptualized and executed by four students at the School of Art. The artists — Ronny Quevedo ART ’12, Daniel Pizarro ART ’12, Kenny Rivero ART ’12 and Andrew Lister ART ’12 — said they named the exhibit “301” in honor of the center’s address on Crown Street, one constant throughout the building’s many changes inside.
“When we looked at this space, little aspects of it popped out, seemed off,” Pizarro said. “[Over the years] there were doors that had been closed up, walls had been erected — the architecture was constantly in flux.”
The team began researching the building’s past at the New Haven Museum on Whitney Avenue in order to learn about the original owner of the building, cigar mogul Roland Ostrowise. While the façade of the building has remained more or less the same over the years, Pizarro said the interiors have been remodeled at various times, with no blueprints on record from the projects. The new exhibit highlights the oddities of the house’s interior — hinged doorways without doors, boarded-up fireplaces and sealed exhaust vents, all of which Quevedo said suggest that the rooms had likely been used for a different purpose in the past.
The exhibit is largely composed of materials previously found inside the building, Pizarro said. The students installed a two-way mirror in a fake wall to replicate a similar mirror that Orlando Rivera ’77 found in the house when helped with its conversion into the Latino Cultural Center. In several rooms, the students mounted paintings discovered in the basement of the house and added speakers playing an audio feed of an interview with Rivera, who originally chose the building as the location for La Casa.
Rosalinda Garcia, director of the Latino Cultural Center and assistant dean of Yale College, said the center has always supported Latino artists, adding that the walls of the first floor had previously been painted white to serve as a gallery.
“The students involved with this project have been active with the center for a few years,” Garcia said. “I was really thrilled when they approached me with this idea.”
While the exhibit is three-dimensional and changes the layout of the first floor of La Casa dramatically, Garcia said that students would be able to use the Center in the same way as before.
“We are just having to be creative about it since the space is quite different,” she said. “That’s a small price to pay for being able to host such a great and thoughtful exhibit.”
The exhibit will be open this Friday through Nov. 19.