The artists on view in February at Kingston Gallery use their work to bring cultural and political rhetoric into the visual space, as they explore the concepts of the impact of militarized zones on communities, and Black Beauty in America. In the Main Gallery, Bonnie Donohue in collaboration with cultural anthropologist Katherine McCaffrey creates a conceptually intricate and emotionally challenging exhibition, Killing Mapepe: Sex and Death in Cold War Vieques, by immersing viewers in a scandalous murder of Mapepe Francis that unfolded sixty years ago on an island municipality in Puerto Rico.

In a provocative exhibition, visual artist Bonnie Donohue and cultural anthropologist Katherine McCaffrey collaboratively focused a lens on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, a rural residential municipality and, until its closure in 2003, the site of a bombing range operated by Roosevelt Roads, the largest US military base in the Western Hemisphere.

Donohue and McCaffrey explore the racially charged April 4, 1953, the murder of an Afro-Puerto Rican bar owner by white US military personnel, some of whom were on R&R leave from the battlefields of Korea, and some who were training to deploy there for the first time. The fight was fueled by racist rage over a young Puerto Rican prostitute who refused to service the drunken white sailors and marines but negotiated to service some Puerto Rican marines.

Exhibited for the first time in Boston, Killing Mapepe: Sex and Death in Cold War Vieques is a potent visual narrative of sex, desire, race, and nation, that emerges from the intersection of global power and colonial possession. The exhibit visually juxtaposes long buried and misfiled military documents that Donohue discovered in a Navy archive with photos, testimony, and narratives, to reveal the way global power struggles played out in unexpected and intimate ways in colonial locations far from the frontlines of conflict. Donohue and McCaffrey’s exhibition sets a new agenda for the study of Cold War politics and political violence in twentieth-century Latin America.

Killing Mapepe: Sex and Death in Cold War Vieques was first exhibited in Vieques at Museo Fuerte Conde de Mirasol from July 2 – November 14, 2011, and later at The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco, November to December 22, 2012. In addition to the exhibition Donohue and McCaffrey have collaborated on several articles and academic presentations of their work.

Bonnie Donohue is a Professor of the Practice in Photography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University in Boston. She is a photographer and video artist whose work maps places of disruption, conflict, and loss while examining race, class, economy, politics, and cultural erasure. She has worked on the island of Vieques since 2000, during an epic struggle between the civilian population of the island and the US Navy, which used the island for military maneuvers. She exhibited "Vieques: A Long Way Home” in 2006 and installed a permanent public art piece “Vieques: Memory and Imagination” in 2014. She has recently documented the site of the former Iron Curtain in Germany and is currently writing a book about the twentieth-century military presence in Vieques.

Katherine McCaffrey is a Professor of Anthropology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She has researched the movement to remove a military live fire range from Vieques, Puerto Rico and subsequent struggles for public health and environmental remediation. She has authored numerous articles and a book, Military Power and Popular Protest: The US Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico (Rutgers University Press 2002).