Intricate multi-artist exhibit highlights Brazilian culture

The “Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints” exhibit showcases several sides of Brazil, including slavery, a theme reflected in the art above. The slavery section of the exhibit is categorized under “The Land and its People,” which also includes art featuring cowboys, immigrants and other individuals important to the history of Brazil (Whitley Brincka/Staff Photographer).

Behind the doors of a typical room in Brodie Hall lies a seemingly magical world full of art, poetry and history all coming from the people of northeastern Brazil. 

As soon as you step foot into the exhibition, your eyes are overwhelmed with the vibrant and unique art pieces, wildly different from what is usually found in museums around New York. At every turn, you will find something new and refreshing, all filled with rich meaning and deep historical context. 

On Sept. 5, the art exhibition titled “Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints” opened in the Bertha V.B. Lederer Gallery. The exhibit runs through Oct. 19 and showcases the art and poetry crafted by the Nordestinos of northeastern Brazil. 

Artists whose work is featured include Jose Francisco Borges, Jose Adario dos Santos, Francisco Ednaldo Ferreria and Joao Souza among other individuals. 

The exhibition is divided into three sections: “The Land & its People,” “Expressions of Faith” and “Poetry, Celebration & Song.” 

Each section features different interactive segments like the opportunity to write personal thoughts or prayers on a piece of paper before tying it to a fence. 

There are also small screens to watch videos and learn more inside information on the specific art. Nearly every corner of the exhibit has hidden gems. 

The first installation, “The Land & its People,” focuses on the African slave trade as it affected Brazil. It also demonstrates the difficulties that the cowboys faced, the struggles of migrant workers and the heroes who were borne out of the ordinary people of northeastern Brazil. 

The next part, the “Expressions of Faith,” depicts the ties that northeastern Brazilians have with religion. A lot of the art in this section represents Jesus and his crucifixion, showing how Brazil’s religious beliefs have parallels to those seen in the Roman Catholic church. 

The third installation, “Poetry, Celebration & Song,” presents physical art, like sculptures, prints and unique poetry to express the feelings of the Nordestinos. The art in each of the sections is so vibrant and complex that it is sure to catch a viewer’s eye. The intricacies within all the art forms are truly complex and the longer you stare at it, the more things you find inside the art and the more appreciation you will gain for it. 

This exhibit is a unique and special opportunity for faculty and students. Gallery director Cynthia Hawkins pointed out that Geneseo has faculty who teach about art and history from this specific culture but there are few to no opportunities to see it properly displayed on-campus. 

Thanks to the NEH on the Road program, shipping fees for the art are greatly reduced so places like Geneseo have the chance to experience this unique art. 

“There hasn’t been any real focus on Latin American or South American art for Geneseo,” Hawkins said.

This event also lets students see what they’ve been studying in a textbook in person, allowing them to immerse themselves in the culture even for a short period of time, something that will stick with them in the future. 

“The artist seems to be more important than the art in many cases,” Hawkins said. “But not in this case.” 

Gallery intern junior Andrew Carlson found the exhibition educational.

“The exhibit is a glimpse into the current customs and traditions of the people of Brazil,” Carlson said. “Whoever attends will learn a lot about the culture.”

The art in this exhibition is the main focus, not the artist. In fact, most of the artists probably wouldn’t be recognizable by name to a majority of art aficionados. The art that is part of this exhibition is appreciated for what it represents and not just for who created it.