Historically, studies of early 20th-century Pueblo painting focused on the role non-Native anthropologists, artists and patrons played in fostering and marketing Pueblo art. In the last two decades, there has been a shift in approach spearheaded by scholars in the…
Point of Contact Expands Its Unique Brand of Interdisciplinary Arts
As it looks forward to marking a half century in existence, Punto de Contacto-Point of Contact is expanding its reach, locally and globally. Point of Contact (POC) has found a new “home” in the Office of Academic Affairs and forged a formal collaboration with the museum studies program in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).
Originally founded in 1975, Point of Contact (POC) is a nonprofit collaborative initiative exploring contemporary visual and verbal arts. Through forums, readings and exhibitions, POC has provided opportunities for writers, scholars and artists to display and explore diverse cultures and identities. Initially conceived by its founder, the late Professor Pedro Cuperman in the College of Arts and Sciences, as an arts journal, it evolved into a series of books and bilingual poetry editions and, eventually, a gallery and multicultural arts education program.
“We look forward to a new age for Point of Contact and the opportunity to expand the reach of its exhibition programs and annual celebration of poetry month,” says Tere Paniagua ’82, who studied under Cuperman when she was a student at the University. Paniagua is now executive director of the Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community, overseeing both Point of Contact and La Casita. “With POC’s new collaboration with the museum studies program, we will have the opportunity to use the gallery space in the Nancy Cantor Warehouse, where Point of Contact will present an exhibition each fall and its poetry readings program in April.”
POC has plans to present “The Border Is a Weapon” in the fall of 2023 to mark Hispanic Heritage Month. This contemporary art installation show features work by a collective of artists in a project initiated at the Laredo Center for the Arts, curated by Gil Rocha. The show has received a grant from the Humanities Center and will be part of the 2023-24 Syracuse Symposium on “Landscapes.”
POC’s board president, Juan Juarez, associate professor of studio arts in the School of Art at VPA, and a native of Laredo, Texas, is working in collaboration with the museum studies program to bring this exceptional work representing the arts and culture of the border regions to the community.
“Point of Contact’s transition to the provost’s office positions us in a broader context and gives us an opportunity to share our unique brand of interdisciplinary arts to a larger audience,” says Juarez. “POC’s unique blend of creative writing and visual arts is an excellent platform to engage with Syracuse University’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. With the provost’s office support, we will be able to expand what we can offer the University, local and international communities.”
Andrew Saluti, assistant professor and program coordinator of museum studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ School of Design, is excited about the partnership between museum studies and POC.
“The ongoing partnership between museum studies and Point of Contact represents one of the most valuable community collaborations for our students,” says Saluti. “Both within the exhibition space and beyond the gallery walls, the work that our programs engage in intersect on multiple levels. This newly formalized relationship will not only enhance our practical approach to educating emerging cultural heritage professionals but will forge invaluable relationships across the University and greater Syracuse community.”
Paniagua believes POC’s collaboration with the museum studies program will greatly benefit students and faculty in interdisciplinary studies throughout the University, exposing them to international scholars, resources and art and literary collections. Historically, POC has engaged students from across the academic spectrum in such programs as creative writing, Latino-Latin American studies, public relations, nonprofit management, arts leadership, art collections management, design and printmaking, among others.
“POC reaches across the campus and around the globe and aligns well with Syracuse University’s commitment to provide students with diverse cultural experiences and international connections,” says Paniagua. “POC’s board recently welcomed several new members, including representation from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with whom we have partnered for years.”
The new members include Matías Roth, from the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and José Sanjinés G’90, professor of communication, media and culture at Coastal Carolina University.
The art collection accumulated by POC will be available for study and research and will travel to other museum spaces in the U.S. and across Latin America and the world. One of its signature pieces, the “Tower of Babel,” by Argentine artist Joseph Kugielsky, will be featured in a tour next fall, traveling to the Munson in Utica, New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Mattatuck Museum, for a co-curated show: “Between Worlds: Stories of Artists and Migrations.”
Each spring, POC hosts Cruel April, a series of events that takes its title from T.S. Eliot’s 1922 poem “The Waste Land”: “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.” This program complements the release of POC’s annual poetry collection, Corresponding Voices, currently a 15-volume series.
After a yearlong process of review and reorganization, plans are in place to publish a new poetry collection in 2024 and resume the Cruel April poetry reading series featuring some of the best poets from around the world. POC will be innovating its long-established program by leveraging textual and visual content with new online platforms and technologies to make poetry accessible to a wider audience.
“We believe that making poetry accessible, regardless of location or access to resources, is key in creating meaningful conversations and experiences around poetry and across cultures. The program’s aim is to draw attention and appreciation for the art form while creating a platform for poets, both established and aspiring, to share their work across cultures,” Paniagua says.