Art Gallery Exhibition - Nicaragua 1978–2018: Susan Meiselas

Event date: 

Monday, March 25, 2019 (All day) to Thursday, May 2, 2019 (All day)


AMelie A. Wallace Gallery, Campus Center
Art exhibition at the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at SUNY Old Westbury



Remembrance of a Massacre El Mozote: Finding the Evidence - Monday, March 25, 1:00 to 2:30 pm, NAB 1100.


Opening Reception: Monday, March 25, 2019, 4:00 to 7:00 pm. 


The Amelie A. Wallace Gallery at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury is pleased to announce the opening of Nicaragua 1978–2018: Susan Meiselas, an exhibition featuring works by U.S. documentary photographer Susan Meiselas, who arrived in Nicaragua in 1978 to cover the populist insurrection that overthrew the regime of Anastasio Somoza, the country’s longtime dictator. Taken mostly in color, Meiselas’s photographs of the Nicaraguan revolution sparked by the assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, the editor of the opposition newspaper La Prensa, have become iconic images that epitomize the courage and resolve of ordinary people. Meiselas’s work forms an extraordinary narrative that begins with a powerful and chilling evocation of the Somoza regime, and then follows the course of the resistance that led to the insurrection culminating in the triumph of the Sandinista revolution of 1979. Meiselas’s book, Nicaragua June 1978– July 1979, originally published in 1981, became a contemporary classic that makes a significant contribution to the literature of concerned photojournalism.

Over the intervening four decades, Meiselas has returned to Nicaragua to visit the sites of her seminal photographs, using her book as a guide to locate her subjects. She turned her record of these people’s testimony into the film Pictures from a Revolution (1991). In 2004, Meiselas collaborated with local communities to place mural-size images of the photographs she took in 1978 and 1979 on public walls and in the open spaces where the photographs were made. That project, Reframing History (2004), investigates how photographs engage with communities to form collective memories and serve as powerful reminders. In the film Voyages (1985), Meiselas’s commentary, conveyed through letters and conversations that span the revolutionary period, offers her reflections on her personal relationship to the history she witnessed. 

Besides murals, films, and photographs, the exhibition includes the installation Molotov Man (1979–2009), a collection of re-publications and re-appropriations of Meiselas’s iconic image of Pablo Jesús Arauz throwing a Molotov cocktail (a bottle filled with gasoline and lit by a rag fuse). Consisting of the original image and transparencies accompanied by various archival materials, including magazine pages, flyers, and even a matchbox that utilizes the image of Molotov Man, as well as the artist’s interview of Arauz in 1990, this multimedia installation demonstrates that an image can have a life of its own, while also raising issues of intellectual property rights.

Also in this exhibition is a slideshow of images created by local Nicaraguan witnesses of the 2018 protests against President Daniel Ortega—ironically, one of the leaders of the Sandinistas who overthrew Somoza in the 1979 uprising—and the brutal crackdown by national police and armed pro-government groups that left 300 dead, over 2,000 injured, and hundreds more arrested and jailed. Meiselas contextualized these riveting images with text, data, and a musical soundtrack.

This exhibition is Meiselas’s second appearance at the Amelie A. Wallace Gallery. In 1986, she participated in a group exhibition with three other U.S. artists reporting on or representing Nicaragua: Roland Legiardi Laura, Kristin Reed, and Christy Rupp. NICARAGUA? ran from November 13 through December 14, 1986.

A public reception for Nicaragua 1978–2018: Susan Meiselas will be held on Monday, March 25, 2019, from 4:00 to 7:00 pm. Remembrance of a Massacre El Mozote: Finding the Evidence, talks by Susan Meiselas and Mercedes Doretti, a forensic anthropologist and a co-founder and fulltime member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, EAAF, will be presented on Monday, March 25, 1:00 to 2:30 pm, at the New Academic Building (NAB) 1100. The two-day program Crisis in Central America Yesterday and Today, organized by Thomas DelGiudice and Kathleen O’Connor-Bater, will take place on Monday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 26. For the complete schedule of programs, please see the College website and exhibition flyers.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Hispanic Latino Cultural Center and Department of Politics, Economics, and Law of SUNY Old Westbury. The organizers of the exhibition thank the following individuals for making this exhibition possible: Susan Meiselas; Alex Nelson and Jessica Bal, assistants at Susan Meiselas Studio; photographer Adam DelGiudice; Eric Hagan, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts; Kathleen O’Connor-Bater, Professor of Modern Languages, and Wendy Genco, secretary in the Modern Language Department.