Jessica Chrastil isn't an artist, but when she got to Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2015, she felt like she'd found a home similar to the one she left in Minneapolis at age 18 for San Francisco and then New York.
In NYC, she'd been employed by a nonprofit organization that worked with artists, artisans and businesses all over the world, but she felt disconnected from the actual creative work. Something had to change.
"I was like, 'If I keep saying that I'm going to move to Mexico, then I'll do it,'" she said.
Seven years ago, she saved up and went for it. Living in Oaxaca awakened the possibility of reconnecting to home, family, history and community; in 2016, she founded the arts organization/residency Pocoapoco there with the help of local creatives.
Now, six years later, she is back in Minneapolis with a collective of eight multidisciplinary artists from Oaxaca. This Friday they will make their Minneapolis art debut with "Que Conste/For the Record" at Highpoint Center for Printmaking.
"Oaxaca has a very long printmaking history," gallery director Sara Tonko said. "We are always looking to offer examples of printmaking in other parts of the world to show that not only is it not an uber local thing, but it's not a dead art technique."
The exhibition hosts 28 works by multidisciplinary artists Adriana Monterrubio, Evelyn Méndez Maldonado, Alicia Jiménez,, José Ángel Santiago, Marco Antonio Velasco Martínez, Yatiní Domínguez, Santiago Rojo and Ana Hernández. The art explores a variety of topics including exploitation of the sea through overfishing, the beginning and end of Zapotec culture, Spanish colonialism, the potential impact of nuclear warfare, gentrification and representations of women from the Isthmus region of Oaxaca. All of the works incorporate printmaking in some way, but not all of the artists have had experience with printmaking.
Chrastil — who acknowledged that it has taken a long time to navigate and reflect on what it means to move blindly to a place that she didn't know and where she didn't know anyone — credits the collective and artists from Oaxaca for making the space possible.
"My friends who are sitting right here have been really helpful and kind in thinking about what [the space] should really look like and kind of the responsibility that comes with that," she said.
In Minneapolis, the exchange between the two cities continues with Chrastil introducing the artists and their work. Previously, the eight artists had never worked together, but once Highpoint offered an exhibition, the show started to come together.
"We suddenly had an objective, something to work on," curator Fernanda de la Torre Ricaud said. "The conversation started to revolve around, how can this group of multidisciplinary artists use printmaking as a discipline, as a medium to expand their practices?"
One of the artists in the show, Marco Antonio Velasco Martínez, will teach a monotype portrait class in Spanish on June 26 (already full) and does work with printmaking, but others were new to the medium.
"The conversations started to shift around the idea of impact of migration, globalization, how land resources, culture, shifts or changes or adapts to these transformations to the physical space and the body and culture in general," de la Torre Ricaud said. " ... And also the ability to decide how to call yourself instead of being named by someone else."
Language is also a part of the conversation, and not just between Spanish and English. One part of that is considering what a common language could be between artists who come from different creative and cultural backgrounds.
"What's lost in translation and also what's gained in translation?" Chrastil said.
"Que Conste/ For the Record"
Opening reception: June 17, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Highpoint Center for Printmaking, 912 W Lake St., Mpls.
Info: 612-871-1326 or highpointprintmaking.org.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., noon-4 p.m. Sat.
When: Ends July 16.