For some time USC student Karolina Rocha wanted to write a poem about beans.
Instead, the Mexican immigrant made a film.
Her documentary short, “Ode to the Beans” is currently screening at the Consulate General of Mexico’s Center for Culture and Cinematic Arts as part of the exhibit “35X35 Bicentennial.”
Opening in time for Mexican Independence Day, and coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual exhibit features 35 works by 35 LA County-based artists who are 35 years of age or younger, according to Cynthia Prida Bravo, consulate cultural department head.
The show celebrates the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence from Spain, which was achieved in 1821.
“Mexico is an art powerhouse of international caliber,” Bravo said. “There’s no better way to celebrate our bicentennial than through the arts featuring these young and up-and-coming artists.”
“I wanted to make a movie about what beans mean to me as a Mexican,” Rocha said, a recent graduate in media studies from UC Berkeley who is now pursuing a master’s degree in film at USC.
She weaves the story of beans with that of immigrants. “It was a message I wanted to share,” she said, adding her documentary has screened at a dozen film festivals in both the US and United Kingdom.
“I never thought it would go that far,” Rocha said.
Rocha’s “Ode to the Beans” is the only film in the showcase that consists mainly of paintings, a few photographs, another few sculptures and some mixed media.
For several years, the consulate’s yearly art show was often limited to artists of Mexican origin. But this year it was open to other ethnicities and nationalities.
“This year we asked ourselves, ‘Why not invite others?’” said curator Marietta Bernstorff. Featured artists include Alex Cave, Conan Zhao, Daniela Garcia and Michelle S. Emami.
The works were selected from more than 100 entries, Bernstorff said. While the bicentennial was an option as a theme, artists had the freedom to go in any direction they wished.
“Some are political but most are mainly about identity,” Bernstorff said.
Zhao’s painting is titled “Mexican Dancer II.” Michelle S. Emami’s artwork is called “Roots,” Holly Perez’s entry is titled “Bottled Up,” and Vanessa Melesio’s artwork is titled “Abundant Duality.”
Alejandro Martin Moreno Alonso’s sculpture is an abstract iron piece titled “Desfragmentada.”
Many artists brought family members and friends to the show’s opening reception on Sept. 11 and discussed their works.
“This wonderful exhibit allows these young talents to think about their works in a new light, promotes their artworks and offers them the opportunity to network with other artists,” Bernstorff said.
“35X35 Bicentennial” will run through Oct. 29 with a music night scheduled for Sept. 26.
The Mexican Consulate is located at 2401 W. 6th St. in Los Angeles. For more information, call (213) 368-6824.