Francisco Letelier works on a mural with SUNY Potsdam students as part of a week-long project at SUNY Potsdam. .

SUNY Potsdam to Unveil Bridging Cultures Mural in Lougheed Learning Commons

  • The Art Museum at SUNY Potsdam serves as the center for visual arts at the College. For more information, visit http://www.potsdam.edu/museum.
  • SUNY Potsdam to Unveil Bridging Cultures Mural Created by Guest Artist Francisco Letelier & Student Artists on Dec. 5

POTSDAM, NY (11/27/2019) SUNY Potsdam will celebrate the installation of a Bridging Cultures Mural created by the Chilean-American artist Francisco Letelier and student artists, with a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 4 p.m., in the Lougheed Learning Commons lobby.

Letelier led the collaborative mural project during a visit to campus last spring, as part of a unique exhibit of Chilean arpilleras, in partnership with The Art Museum at SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University’s Brush Gallery. The Bridging Cultures Mural project allowed students to work directly with Letelier on a mural connecting three decades of solidarity and cultural actions in support of human rights and democracy in Chile and Latin America, as well as current issues throughout the Americas.

Francisco Letelier works on a mural with SUNY Potsdam students as part of a week-long project at SUNY Potsdam. .

Francisco is the son of Orlando Letelier, an economist, politician and diplomat who was exiled from Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. A refugee in Washington, D.C., Orlando worked to inform the world about the human rights violations and atrocities occurring in Chile under Pinochet. In 1976, Orlando was assassinated by the Chilean secret police in Washington, D.C., when Francisco was just a teenager. After his father was murdered, Francisco turned to art, and founded the Orlando Letelier Brigade — creating murals to honor his late father, show Chile’s tumultuous history, and share his hope for the future.

The Bridging Cultures Mural project ran concurrently with the “Sewn in Protest: Chilean Arpilleras from the 1970s and ’80s” exhibition, which showcased the handmade Chilean patchwork tapestries at SUNY Potsdam’s Gibson Gallery, in March 2019.

Spearheaded by SUNY Potsdam History professor Dr. M.J. Heisey and Spanish professors Dr. Liliana Trevizán and Dr. Oscar Sarmiento, the exhibitions showcased arpilleras, Chilean patchwork tapestries from the 1970s and 1980s that depicted protests against human rights violations in Chile, but also the extraordinary efforts to care for families and communities, and to celebrate the joy of life. Early arpilleristas, as the artists were known, sometimes sewed the tapestries from scraps of clothing from missing or abducted relatives.

Mara Frisbee ’22 works on a mural that was part of the week-long Francisco Letelier mural project at SUNY Potsdam. .

North Country Public Radio was the media sponsor for “Sewn in Protest” and the Bridging Cultures Mural Project.

The Art Museum at SUNY Potsdam serves as the center for visual arts at the College. For more information, visit http://www.potsdam.edu/museum.

The School of Arts and Sciences at SUNY Potsdam exposes students to a variety of fields within the fine arts, sciences, humanities and social sciences. The School’s strong foundation in the liberal arts prizes creativity and inquiry, offering a full palette of study in 18 departments offering majors, minors and interdisciplinary programs that encourage hands-on learning opportunities for every student. To learn more, visit http://www.potsdam.edu/academics/aas.

About SUNY Potsdam:

Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America's first 50 colleges -- and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit http://www.potsdam.edu.

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