Written by Matthew Patterson, Visitor Services Associate
Miradas is a fitting title for a show about artists looking at themselves and their heritage and reflecting on where they have been and where they are headed.
From June 5 through September 16, visitors to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will have the opportunity to view paintings, prints and photographs as part of a survey of Mexican and Mexican-American art drawn from the collection of Bank of America. As one of the leading corporate collections in the country this exhibition, curated by Cesareo Moreno of the Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, marks the first time Mexican art has been presented in a major exhibition at The Cummer.
Beginning with works produced around the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1920 and carrying through to the first decade of this century, Miradas not only highlights the connection between ancient civilization and the modern Mexican national identity but also common cultural aspects and artistic theories.
One such trend presented in this exhibition is Indigenismo. This movement emerged as an examination by artists of Mexico’s history prior to the Spanish conquest as well as the ensuing aftermath. The effects were most broadly felt in the Muralist movement, which sought to infuse avant-garde theories on art with Mexico’s indigenous culture and current political climate. The work of artists like Diego Rivera and others established this movement and even inspired the creation of a similar program in the U.S. within the Works Progress Administration-Federal Art Project in 1933. A modern example of Indigenismo on display in Miradas might be Javier Chavira’s El Guerrero (2004). This work evokes an image reminiscent of the Aztec warrior of ancient Mexico while presenting it in a contemporary composition.
The work of the Muralists also ties into the later Chicano movement of the 1960’s. As immigration from Mexico to the U.S. increased during the mid-20th century the Mexican-American children of those immigrants were faced with discrimination and stereotypes about their culture. What ensued was a civil rights movement that sought to establish equality and which used innovative methods that included music, literature, and visual arts to convey its message. One major artist associated with this movement and who is represented in Miradas is Judithe Hernandez.
As a native of Los Angeles, Hernandez was a founding member of that city’s mural movement. Many of the themes that she and her contemporaries were addressing, (injustice, equality, and pride in Mexican identity) were linked to things like the Mexican revolution, the indigenous cultures of their ancestral homeland, new social and political ideas, and advanced art theory.
One piece by Hernandez shown in this exhibition reflects both her involvement with the sociopolitical climate she currently inhabits as well as acknowledging her heritage. The work Red Hand, Bloody Hand, Hand of Oppression (2008) references the serial murder of women in Ciudad, Mexico while presenting the portraits as brightly colored elements of indigenous mythology.
Others showcased in Miradas include Mexican artists Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Gunther Gerzso, Gabriel Orozco, Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, as well as Mexican-American artists Robert Graham, and Roberto Juarez.
The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is pleased to present this significant collection of artwork to the North Florida community.