Art as a Tool for Transformation

Artists from Latin America and the Caribbean bring awareness to the challenges of development through their work in the recent acquisitions of the IDB Art Collection.

By Inter-American Development Bank

IDB Art Collection

Naranja (Orange) (2017) by Paulette Franceries GaloInter-American Development Bank

The Color of Resilience

The title of this work, Naranja (Orange) as well as the color in the background, represents energy and warmth, both traits that relate with women’s female power and their love of their roots.

Naranja (Orange) (2017) by Paulette Franceries GaloInter-American Development Bank

Artist and designer Paulette Franceríes Galo hopes to inspire women and girls to appreciate and use that infinite power they all carry inside.

The Secret (2018) by Cecilia ParedesInter-American Development Bank

Female Landscape

The Secret, part of Cecilia Paredes’ photographic series Paisajes (Landscapes), suggestively camouflages the artist’s own body against intricate and ornamented backgrounds. Painted with great detail, her skin merges seamlessly with the green and beige wallpaper around her.

The pattern of the paper suggestively brings nature and the feminine body together, even as it threatens to occlude her form. This seeming displacement of her body alludes to the forced migration—and subsequent adaptations and adjustments—of people around the world.

Sonhos III (2017) by Mayara NardoInter-American Development Bank

Mother Earth

In the same way that men have dominated the land for agriculture and mineral extraction, shown in the pattern of her face, women have also been subject to a wrongful comparison between their fertility and the soil's. 

Young artist Mayara Nardo proposes that getting rid of the ties connecting femininity and Earth might give room to the dreams of the women portrayed in her paintings.

Grann A. (2017) by Tessa MarsInter-American Development Bank

The Riddle of Identity

Coming from a family that has roots in Haiti’s modern history and popular culture, Tessa Mars’s work pushes back against the way her country’s history has traditionally been represented in art. 

Family, and what artist Tessa Mars calls “the riddle of identity”, are the  dominating themes in the portrait series Those I Know, Those I Don’t Know   – Sa M Konnen, Sa M Pa Konnen (2018-2019) – conceived to honor her ancestry and in particular the legacy of her grandmother.

Amazonas (Amazon) (2014) by Fabián DíazInter-American Development Bank

Technology for All?

The lack of access to technology and knowledge results in less opportunities in terms of personal and economic development, as well as in participation and decision-making for inhabitants of the Amazonian basin. 

Colombian artist Fabián Díaz wants to highlight this disparity and to press for technology to be at the service of these communities, helping them disseminate and preserve their indigenous identity.

Señor Selknam (Selknam Man) (2018) by Mercedes De HaayInter-American Development Bank

Portrait of a People

This portrait of a Selknam man is based on the photographs taken by an Austrian priest and ethnologist who visited Patagonia from 1918 to 1924 to study and produce the only record of the now extinct indigenous group.

Upon arriving in Chile, after fleeing her native Venezuela, artist Mercedes De Haay came to learn about the Selknam people and made them the subject of her most recent work on metal.

La distancia del arcoiris (The Distance from the Rainbow) (2017) by Darwin FuentesInter-American Development Bank

Safe Space

A freedom flag adapted into a metaphor that speaks about the exercise of individual freedoms, and challenges prejudice towards people of diverse sexual orientation. What is the appropriate distance one must keep from others? 

Artist Darwin Fuentes challenges prejudice towards people of diverse sexual orientation: "Marking the distance from that which is different—alterity—is a sign of self-protection, and another form of violence."

En el umbral del destino (On the Threshold of Destiny) (2017) by Nicolás ShiInter-American Development Bank

Look to the Future

Many children in El Salvador face poverty, an unsanitary environment, disease and gang violence. Salvadoran-American artist Nicolas Shi portrays them staring at an uncertain future in his painting En el umbral del destino.

“If the world is concerned with economic growth, gender equality and justice, any efforts should include health, safety and educational programs targeted to underprivileged children”, says Shi. 

Legado (Legacy) (2018) by Andrés Soto NiñoInter-American Development Bank

Our Legacy

By playing around with some of his family photos, artist Felipe Soto Niño, depicts the symbiosis that should take place between humanity and nature, a crucial relationship for sustainable development.

The artist as a child represents a generation that was handed the world and must preserve it for the generations to come. Its legacy has the potential of defining humanity.  

Conexión (Connection) (2017) by Simón Zarama PomboInter-American Development Bank

Family Ties

Colombian artist Simón Zarama Pombo wants to invite the audience to explore and draw their own conclusions on, among other things, the type of relationships that exists between humans and technology. 

By gathering different elements that are easily associated with globalization and development, the artist illustrates the ubiquitous power of technology to simultaneously connect humans and also drive us apart.

Alondra Cornuda, de la serie Especies Invisibles (Horned Lark, from the Invisible Species series) (2016) by Katherinne Sánchez GómezInter-American Development Bank


These photographs depict some of the native bird species of Bogota’s wetlands, which, due to negligence and the absence of conservation efforts in the area, are now endangered or extinct.

For young artist Katherinne Sánchez Gómez, the preservation of these ecosystems is vital for the existence of these species, if allowed to function as a safe haven for migratory birds.

Mar (Sea) from the Washed Up Series (2013) by Alejandro DuránInter-American Development Bank

Colors of the Land

This waste washed ashore along the Mexican coastline, where it was collected by artist Alejandro Duran. He explains how “the plastic mimics algae, roots, rivers, or fruit, reflecting the infiltration of plastics into the natural environment.”

Duran collects trash that found its way onto the shores of the coastline of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally protected reserve, and creates this dystopian landscapes on the beaches of the Mayan Riviera. 

Este camino no es (This Is Not The Way) (2017) by Alfredo Esparza CárdenasInter-American Development Bank

This Is Not The Way

The dry plane in the image used to be the Viesca Lake, a body of water that fostered migratory North American birds in winter, but dried out due to the construction of run-of-river dams.  

For photographer Alfredo Esparza Cárdenas, the desolate landscape of Este camino no es is relevant in the context of global warming and production policies that have driven us to the environmental crisis we are experiencing today.

United States No. 724 (from the Penalty Series) (2014) by Mandy BarkerInter-American Development Bank

All Around Us

The issue of marine pollution is the focus of Mandy Barker’s Penalty series: a soccer ball as a single plastic object and global symbol that could reach an international audience. 

A penalty is a punishment for breaking a rule in the game of soccer, and, in relation to Barker's work, a penalty is the price we all pay if we do not look after our oceans by managing the over consumption of plastic and becoming responsible for its disposal. 

El nuevo gladiador (The New Gladiator) (2015) by Lyann LeguisamoInter-American Development Bank

New Opportunities

The first barber's festival of San Miguelito district in Panama City, an area chastised by violence, poverty and chaos, creates opportunities and innovative ways of earning money for the young. 

For photographer and cultural activist Lyann Leguisamo, the festival, and these photos, are vehicles to show how valuable their culture and community are, and to motivate them to keep working hard. 

Cebúes con canoas (Zebus With Canoes) (2017) by Ramón Lineros PiconInter-American Development Bank

Way of Life

Through his work in digital media, young artist Ramon Lineros seeks to create awareness of the deterioration of the soil and deforestation caused by overgrazing in the Magdalena River region of Colombia. 

Cattle culture is strongly tied with Colombian and Latin American identity. From when they were first introduced into to the continent, zebus have been associated with economy and food, coexisting with the native landscape and culture for centuries. 

Empowering Humanity (2017) by María Fernanda LairetInter-American Development Bank

Global Value

In the same way that technology and digital currency are forcing a revolution in globalization and economic growth, the boundaries between different cultures are being shattered by the movement of people and money across the world. 

With a different view of economic development as a byproduct of sustainability, Venezuelan artist María Fernanda Lairet explores the interactions of economic systems and humans. 

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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