Sep 14, 2023 - Feb 24, 2024
Mexicanidad: Folklorizing a Nation 1921-1971 showcases a visual history of artesanias (“crafts”) produced in the wake of the Mexican Revolution by Indigenous artisans and displayed alongside 2D works by Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera (Los Tres Grandes), and many more. Featuring a wide of range of pottery, textiles, woodworking, basketry, and other objects, this exhibit celebrates the craftsmanship and artistry of these pieces and their creators while also examining the social, political, and cultural climate that enabled their production.
Lasting more than a decade, the Mexican Revolution represented not only a major political upheaval but an economic, social, and cultural one as well. At the end of the conflict, during The Peaceful Years, seeking to unite a divided and factious country, the newly installed Mexican government turned its attention towards developing an essential idea of Mexicanidad (“Mexicanicity” or “Mexican-ness”) that could be used to solidify and bolster the burgeoning nation's identity.
To do this, Mexican officials and intellectuals invested in and cultivated the production of artesanias across the country: crafts and other visual materials that would highlight Mexico’s Indigenous roots in a ‘modern’ context, carefully synthesizing Mexico’s Indigenous and European heritage in order to become something at once familiar, exotic, and most of all recognizable. This movement in art and art-making was done not only with an eye towards nation-building but with the idea of presenting a palatable image to global powers as well. Much of the work produced during this time, like the murals of Los Tres Grandes or the tradition of ballet folklorico, is today seen as quintessential representations of Mexican culture.
Mexicanidad: Folklorizing a Nation 1921-1971 will be on display through February 24, 2024.
Special thanks to Michael T. Ricker, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso Public Library-Border Heritage Center, and UTEP Special Collections.