Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Considering brown

Richard Rodriguez reflects on Hispanics in America


Richard Rodriguez

    In his dazzling new memoir, “Brown: The Last Discovery of America,” Richard Rodriguez reflects on the color brown and the meaning of Hispanics to the life of America today. Rodriguez argues that America has been brown since it was settled by Native Americans.
    Rodriguez is heading to Ketchum as a guest of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and has several public appearances planned.
    First up is a book discussion on Thursday, Jan. 10, at 6:30 p.m. at The Center in Ketchum, where readers can engage in a lively conversation about this memoir and about racial identity.
     He is part of The Center’s broader exhibition “Crossing Cultures: Ethnicity in Contemporary America.”
    The exhibition features large-scale installations by artists Joe Feddersen and Bob Dix alongside work by Julie Chang and Ana Serrano. Each of the artists in the exhibition makes work that focuses on signs and symbols—symbols with personal, private meaning, with historical or traditional cultural
significance, and with contemporary, popular relevance.
    They share a concern with the differences but also (and perhaps especially) the overlaps in symbols from their family backgrounds and those they find in contemporary culture. Their artwork considers the fluidity, humor and contrariness of identity in contemporary America, where factors like race, ethnicity and our families’ cultural origins are always part of the way we identify ourselves, but offer up varying solutions in different situations.
  “Brown” is about America in the broadest sense—a look at what our country is, full of surprising observations by a writer who is a marvelous stylist as well as a trenchant observer and thinker.
  Tickets for the book discussion are $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers, and can be obtained online at or by calling 726-9491.
      Rodriguez will offer more elaborate ideas in a lecture on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum. Tickets are $25, $35 and $10 students.

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