In September of 2021, our region embraced an important milestone for our local artists of color. "Let's Pretend" was an eye-opening success and featured the work of EAC's CHROMA Guild. The CHROMA Guild is a group of creative professionals founded by Erie Arts & Culture that works to provide access and opportunities to creative professionals of color in northwestern PA.
The CHROMA artists who participated in the show were: Antonio Howard, Lourdes Jasso, Sheldon McNeill, Esther Ortiz, Emidalys Serrano, Danielle Slade, Roland Slade, Armando Reyes, and Marquis Wallace. This exhibition was inspired by Aruna D'Souza's book "Whitewalling: Art, Race & Protest in 3 Acts," which was featured at Edinboro University and as a part of a Erie Arts & Culture collaborative event in 2020. "Let's Pretend" was organized and curated by Dr. Leslie C. Sotomayor II.
Lisa Austin stated, "The Bruce Gallery's "Let's Pretend" show is, to my knowledge, the first exhibit curated and composed of work by artists of color. As the gallery director, my role was to support the curator, Dr. Leslie Sotomayor, and the eight nine Erie, PA artists to try and achieve the best possible display of their work. In addition, I've worked to attract people to see the show through special events. The Bruce hosted a discussion between the artists and the curator, and a conversation titled "Learning While Black" on August 28. I'm grateful that Allegheny senior Art History student Heather Amancio wrote about Let's Pretend for the September 1, 2021 edition of the Erie Reader. "
CHROMA members chimed in about their experiences participating in the show.
Armando R. Reyes stated, "This show really forced me to think about how I can express myself through my preferred medium (wood). This piece reflects how words, language, and culture intersect. These words specifically have a meaning to me, positive or negative, and they are a window into my past and present life."
Lourdes Reyes concurred, "It is an honor to be able to share a space with such talented artists! Let us (you) remember that representation matters!"