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MCCC’s James Kerney Campus Gallery Presents Tony Chirinos’ ‘Fighting Cocks’ March 6-29; Artist Reception March 21, 5-8 pm


Cockfighting on the island of San Andrés, Colombia. Photo by Tony Chirinos.

Trenton, N.J. – Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC's) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) in downtown Trenton announces the opening of Tony Chirinos’ “Fighting Cocks,” a photographic exhibit that reveals the exclusive culture and longstanding tradition of cockfighting that is still popular in some parts of the world. The exhibit includes 24 20x24 inch photos.

This provocative show runs from Tuesday, March 6 to Thursday, March 29. On Wednesday, March 21, JKCG invites the community to a Reception and Artist’s Talk with Tony Chirinos from 5 to 8 p.m., with the talk to begin at 5:30 p.m. JKCG is located in MCCC's Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street, across the street from the Kerney Building. JKCG's director and curator is Michael Chovan-Dalton, coordinator of the MCCC Photography and Digital Imaging program.

JKCG hours for this show are Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. More about JKCG is available here.

According to Chirinos, the show’s origins come from stories his father told him about growing up in Cuba, where the subculture of cockfighting was part of community life. As Chirinos got older, he thought back to those stories; his interest was piqued further after reading Gabriel García Márquez's novella, No One Writes to the Colonel. When Chirinos had the opportunity to visit the island of San Andrés, Colombia, where cockfighting is a rich tradition, he was eager to see a fight for himself.

A faculty member at Miami Dade College’s Kendall Campus since 2003, Chirinos traveled to San Andrés over a span of seven years during his summer and winter breaks. He took photos of the people, the architecture – and the subculture of cockfighting that reflects the island’s Spanish and Portuguese ancestry.

Chirinos’ goal was to produce images that respect the island’s cockfighting tradition without imposing a westernized ideology on it. “This attitude allows me to pay close attention to the birds, the bird handlers, and the ritual of bird grooming,” he said. “I am uncovering through a visual understanding the meaning of this subculture, which is an important part of my Hispanic family heritage.”

Chovan-Dalton observes that Chirinos’ series is a fascinating look into an ancient, brutal blood contest that is thousands of years old and still very popular in some parts of the world – and still legal in some parts of the unincorporated U.S territories.

“When describing his work, Chirinos mentions that he approached the subject openly, without prejudice, and with the understanding that it is a part of his heritage,” Chovan-Dalton said. “This allowed him to make photographs that are revealing, personal, and without condescension. And, it allows the viewer to consider their own ideas about the subject matter and the people involved.”

Chirinos received a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University (NY). He is a Fellow of the South Florida Cultural Consortium. His work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad, and is part of numerous permanent collections. He was among 100 photographers to participate in Review Santa Fe 2012, the premier juried portfolio review event in the world. Most recently he participated in the Fourth Annual New York Portfolio Review sponsored by New York Times’ Lens blog.

JKC Gallery at Mercer

Directions to James Kerney Campus

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