Penn State School of Visual Arts alumna Ghislaine Fremaux, visiting assistant professor of art at the University, was one of a select group of international guest artists who exhibited in the Ninth Biennial of Visual Art of Nicaragua, Recycling Memory: Recapturing the Lost City, in early April.
Her work was part of an international exhibition curated by Omar Lopez-Chahoud at the North American Cultural Center, titled Intercambio y artistas norteamericanos Nicaraguan (North American and Nicaraguan Art Exchanges), which was conceived as a dialogue between four American artists and four Nicaraguan artists. Fremaux’s piece, a collaboration with Milena Garcia, was also shown at the Centro de Arte in Managua, the primary venue for the Biennial.
Fremaux was invited to the Biennial thanks to a recommendation by the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Phyllis M. Powers, who has one of Ghislaine’s works installed in her home through the Art in Embassies program. “When Omar Lopez-Chahoud was named the curator of the Ninth Biennial of Visual Art of Nicaragua, he approached the embassy about the prospect of—for the first time—bringing American artists to participate in the event, and to collaborate with Nicaraguan artists,” explains Fremaux. “The ambassador was interested, recommended inviting someone from her current 'collection,’ and suggested me specifically. Lopez-Chahoud reviewed the work in her home, and concurred that it should be me—for which I am so grateful!”
The biennial, started in 1997, has expanded and now has five locations in the capital of Managua, two in Léon and two in Granada. This year’s theme invited artists to present new interpretations of the country’s history. Because the majority of the population of Nicaragua is under 40, many residents did not experience events that shaped the country’s past, including three devastating earthquakes in “Old Managua,” the overthrow of the Somocista dictatorship in the late 1970s, and an ongoing revolution through 1990. According to organizers, “this edition of the Biennial wants to recover the memory of [Old Managua] we all miss.”
Fremaux, who earned her M.F.A. in Painting at Penn State in 2012, has exhibited her work across the United States. She recently received funding from the Penn State School of Visual Arts and College of Arts and Architecture to fund Suffering and Resilience, a project designed to give voice to male and female adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Her partner in the project is Dr. Katharine Staley, associate director of the Penn State Justice Center for Research.
For more on Fremaux’s work, visit her website at ghislainefremaux.com.