Works by Carlos Rogel titled “Memory and Inheritance” at the SOMArts Cultural Center exhibit Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War, on Feb. 7, 2013. Photo Beth LaBerge

Latin America is a region that has suffered natural disaster and man-made disaster—by enduring hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, massacres, lootings and civil wars.

El Salvador suffered a civil war from 1980-1992 that left around 80,000 dead. The war was between the Armed Forces of Salvador (FAES) and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

The multimedia exhibit “Mourning and Scars” (Duelo y cicatrices) celebrates the 20th anniversary of the signing of the peace accords that put an end to the war. A group of 12 artists portray the consequences of the bloody conflict and the happiness that follows after so much suffering.

Roxana Lieva, curator of the exhibit and Salvadoran by birth, successfully recruited artists Josué Rojas, Beatriz Cortez, Víctor Cartagena, Juan Carlos Mendizabal, Plinio Alberto Hernández, Roque Montez and Carolina Rivera. All of them are from different cities—from the Bay Area to New York—but all carry Salvadoran heritage, whether born in El Salvador or elsewhere.

Lieva is proud to have the opportunity to organize an exhibit of this magnitude.

“What’s interesting is to have everyone together … all [these] professionals from different areas,” she said excitedly, referring to the satisfaction of having modern artists and artists with fine-art backgrounds.

In the exhibit, the public will find paintings, videos and music where the artists reveal their souls in order to relay a message inspired by a common theme: the civil war and its aftermath.

As son of Salvadoran migrants, Rojas recognizes that while the pain and consequences are present in his work, his principal objective is a different message. “I want the people to know how I moved forward,” he declared.


A mixed media installation with paintings, mural and video by Josue Rojas at the SOMArts Cultural Center exhibit Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War, on Feb. 7, 2013. Photo Beth LaBerge

Respectively, “How I Moved Forward” (Como salí adalente) is the name of his work. It reflects the family in time of war, the gangs, the immigration, but also the faith, the hope and the love gained for people to move forward.

In addition to Rojas’ videos, artists Mendizabal and Fuentes’ videos include interpretations of songs, images from war and testimonies of the expansion of deportations from the U.S. to El Salvador. The exhibit includes lively colored portraits by Carlos Rogel and murals by Montez that narrate episodes of war in black and white. There is also a recreation of a library by Cortez, who was in hiding during the war.

Without a doubt the images of the fatalities from the war presented by Rosario Moore’s work are the most detailed, profound and humane in the exhibit. Passing by there’s a portrait of a naked indigenous person in the forest and another of activists with t-shirts marked with symbols of interrogation. Their demands for answers from the government about the hundreds of people who have disappeared during the war have still not been met.

This exhibit will touch the heart of the viewer, as many Latin Americans have common pasts united by similarities in experiences and hardships. Latin America is a territory that has experienced so much chaos but the fight to recuperate the dignity that was seized and has been trampled upon for the past 500 years continues. Without a doubt many people will identify with the exhibit.

“It’s an achievement knowing that there are artists that are concerned and are sharing our history with other cultures. I love seeing so much passion in this place,” Rosa Garcia declared when she arrived at the exhibit.

SOMArts Cultural Center is located at 934 Brannan St. and is open Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

—Translation Jocelyn Tabancay Duffy