DAM Vigilante Vitória Cribb

Brazilian Vitória Cribb's 'Vigilate_Extended' is a commentary on surveillance in the Denver Art Museum's newest exhibit, 'Who Tells a Tale Adds a Tail.'

There is an irony to the Denver Art Museum’s first-ever large-scale exhibition to exclusively feature millennial-generation Latin American artists, says one of those featured.

“I think you could take out the words ‘Latin American’ entirely, and you would still be walking into an amazing exhibition of artworks that just happen to all come from Latin America,” said Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio, one of 19 commissioned artists from 14 heritages whose work comprises “Who Tells a Tale Adds a Tail: Latin America and Contemporary Art,” now open at the Denver Art Museum through March 5. Two are from Denver – Juan Fuentes, 30, and Caleb Hahne Quintana, 27.

“A lot of us don’t speak the same languages, and we all have such different cultural backgrounds – and yet somehow the works become this mutual language,” said Aparicio, who is all about reframing the narrative around the stereotypes that come with labels, especially in the U.S. To this new generation of artists, it’s not about letting the world define them – it’s about making art that makes sense for them in the world they have been given.

Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio Dolls

Dolls inspired by Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio's El Salvadoran grandmother's memorial keepsakes.

While their works are essentially informed by their own cultures and personal histories, “Who Tells a Tale” makes plain that these artists are driven by the same political and social issues that are meaningful to pretty much anyone their ages (26 to 40) living anywhere in the world in 2022, including technology, identity, climate change, privacy, machismo, body diversity and consumerism.

And as young artists, their choices of expression are as broad as the spectrum of art itself, ranging from recorded performance art to 3-D video to textiles to animation to photography to soft sculpture to decoupage to, yes, even a few old-fashioned wall paintings. 

The youngest artist in the cohort, 26-year-old Vitória Cribb of Brazil, has crafted a cautionary digital film about surveillance that she says speaks precisely to what it means to be a Black woman in this era of technology.

“The use of the machine in our world is to serve us; to provide results,” she said. “It seems to me that Black women are here to serve and generate profit for other people as well.” 

This is the first major exhibition at the DAM since Raphael Fonseca was named Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art in 2021. The art world hasn’t made a lot of space for artists like these, he said, instead focusing on the older generation.

As the title implies, Fonseca conceived “Who Tells a Tale” to be a narrative exhibition, meaning that each artist was charged with using their chosen forum to communicate a full story. That plays out in a variety of ways here, including a wall-sized painted storyboard that tells an arcing tale about violence in Columbia, several films and artistic folk tales. One artist's contribution is an entire room that he’s turned into a nightclub for erotic poetry. 

The exhibition’s unusual title is inspired by a Brazilian proverb that less alliteratively translates to, "Who tells a tale adds a point" – emphasizing the idea of using art to push the momentum of a conversation forward. “I felt like it was a title that somehow condensed all of the energy of the commissioned works in the exhibition,” said Fonseca, who is not all that concerned with whether DAM visitors necessarily “like” all of the exhibited works. “I don’t think ‘liking’ is important in art – but I do hope you are somehow affected by the images you see,” he said.   

The artists had to adapt each piece to the unique architecture of the DAM's Hamilton Building, which contains not a single right-angled corner or symmetrical wall, to fascinating effect. “This is not a project we could have done in a white-cubed space,” said DAM Director Christoph Heinrich.

Alan Sierra DAM Latin America

Alan Sierra's exhibit is an entire room in the Hamilton Building: 'Club Discreto' ('Discreet'). 



Born: Sonora, Mexico

Lives now: Basel, Switzerland

Title of piece: “Club Discreto” (in English: “Discreet”)

Form: This installation transforms an entire room into a seductive nightclub that hosts readings of erotic queer literature.

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Alan Sierra DAM

Alan Sierra

What tale does it tell? When you enter this spare, neon-infused cabaret, you hear Sierra’s voice reading the kind of literature he hungered for as a young man growing up in a Mexico border state that, for him, was a cultural desert. His life forever changed when he found the words of the Mexican poet Abigaile Bojorquez. “It’s so wonderful that literature has the opportunity to exist in the most inhospitable places,” said Sierra, who took inspiration from the idea of a peeking eye. “I think peeking is a way of looking that is not only useful to obtain information, but it is also a shy way of informing a person of your interest in them without being explicit,” he said.

What from your life influenced it? “I found my voice in literature that really spoke to me and my identity. There have been many queer writers who have expressed their most interesting desires through closeted poetry. With this piece, I feel like I am recreating something for my (audience) that I was looking for myself in my teenage years. I really wanted to create this experience for people who have queer desires, especially people in the Latinx community.”


Born and lives in: Rio de Janeiro, the daughter of a Haitian father and a Brazilian mother

Title of piece: “Vigilante_Extended”

Form: A looping, 9-minute digital film that plays on a wall-sized TV comprised of six smaller screens.


Vitória Cribb.

What tale does it tell? The film uses 3D avatars and digital graphics to introduce characters who are observing and recording every little thing we do from the other side of the screen. That’s why her characters have lots of ears and eyes on their bodies. “They are watchers, and because I think we need to give names to our trauma, I call them ‘vigilantes,’ ” she said. “They know all our data, because we have freely given it to them – just like we give over our information to anonymous digital entities all the time.”

What from your life influenced it? “I am only 26, which means I was born and raised on digital. My work is done entirely with digital. My relationships with my friends are all built around the digital space. And to be honest – it’s exhausting. I always feel like I am being observed, and I think a lot of people my age feel that way. This movie is a way to share those feelings.”

Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio La Tecleña

Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio's 'La Tecleña.'


Born: In Los Angeles to a White mother from the U.S. and a father from El Salvador

Lives now: Los Angeles

Title of piece: “La Tecleña”

Form: Mixed-media soft sculpture, textiles and paint. One of two related hangings is a wall-sized rubber casting of a tree that is considered sacred both in El Salvador and in Central American communities in Los Angeles. The actual interior fluid of these trees, which is mixed into the piece, is known to move nutrients through the body and heal wounds. Here, the tree is covered with hundreds of repurposed sock dolls that represent those who died in or fled the El Salvadoran Civil War. Each sock doll is filled with fiber from the ceiba tree, which is commonly used as material for pillows, mattresses and other forms of rest.


Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio

What tale does it tell? “My parents met during the Salvadoran Civil War, and, as a White woman, my mother was very involved in the war effort,” he said. “When my grandma was a refugee during the war, a lot of her family had either ‘been disappeared’ or fled to the U.S. – and my father was one of them. She had all this clothing left behind, so she started making these dolls as a way of memorializing those lost.” This piece, then, is essentially a living tree lined by hundreds of dead bodies in a baroque frame.  

What from your life influenced this piece? ”I grew up in diasporan Salvadoran communities in Los Angeles, so a lot of my work is referencing L.A. as much as it is El Salvador. It started when I did a show with my grandma’s dolls as a way of connecting all of these dead bodies on the ground to migration. … That, or I might just be secretly obsessed with socks.”