Mexic-Arte Museum presents the virtual exhibition Life and Experiences in the U.S/Mexico Borderlands, on view now through the Museum’s website and the Museum’s CultureConnect portal. In early 2020, Juan Antonio Sandoval Jr. (1946 – 2021), a former reference librarian and subject specialist for art and Chicanx studies at The University of Texas at El Paso, donated his vast collection to Mexic-Arte Museum, which he had amassed over 30 years. The Sandoval Collection is comprised of over 1,500 artworks, many of them created by Mexican and Latinx artists. It includes prints, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and popular art from the El Paso region, as well as Mexico. The Collection also contains hundreds of publications and ephemerae. Juan Sandoval’s dedicated patronage to the arts is a monumental achievement, and his legacy will allow countless generations to engage with these important works. Mexic-Arte is grateful that Juan Sandoval chose to donate his work to the Museum.
In addition, a large part of the full exhibition focuses on artworks on the Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands, and features a unique virtual component. Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands examines the cultural history and social issues of the border as portrayed by artists in the El Paso/Juárez and the U.S. Mexico border region.
This part of the exhibition is enhanced with a web page, an online exhibition and a virtual lecture series, all established in order to better reach a broader audience. The exhibition is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands is divided into five themes: Creating a Border; Land, Fauna, and Allegories; I am Immigrant You Are; Immigrant Dream and Nightmare; and The Culture Continues/La Cultura Sigue. The Sandoval Collection represents the unique distinct history and culture of the borderlands or la frontera. In keeping with our mission, the Museum’s Collection is a vehicle whereby the public can gain access to valuable information on cultural heritage. Humanities programs encourage an understanding of humanity in the broader culture of Texas, and in the global community.
Artwork used in event banner: Luis Jimenez, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, 1989, Color Lithograph on paper, 42″ x 57 1/8″. Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection
Virtual Lecture Series
As part of the exhibition, the Mexic-Arte Museum will be hosting a series of online lectures led by art historians and professors from March 6th – May 1st. The virtual lectures will be live streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live, and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas. Participants can pre-register for any of the events, or simply view the lectures on the Museum’s Facebook page on the day of each event.
CultureConnect is a new mobile tool that Mexic-Arte Museum is utilizing to make exhibitions and artwork accessible to the community. Through CultureConnect, Mexic-Arte Museum can present curated information about the artwork and give the viewer a chance to explore the artist and artwork in depth!
Creating a Border
1492 marked the beginning of the European invasion, when Christopher Columbus reached what he dubbed La Isla Española (what is now known as the shared island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Inhabited by the Taíno people, the region was soon flooded with European colonists. One of these early colonists was Hernán Cortés, a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition to invade the Aztec Empire. In 1519, Cortés illegally led a campaign into the mainland of the Western Hemisphere in an open mutiny against Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, the Governor of New Spain. During a disagreement, Velázquez revoked Cortes’ charter. Actively ignoring orders, Cortés landed on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mayan territory. Cortés arrived in the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, on November 8, 1519, formally claiming the land for the Spanish crown.
On May 26, 1521, Cortés returned with renewed resources and troops, invading the Aztec Empire once again. Tenochtitlan fell on August 13, 1521 after 75 days. Nueva España (New Spain) was established in the “New World”, and along with the Aztec, Spain invaded the Maya, and Inca people, occupying their vast territories, while controlling native populations and natural resources, such as gold, silver, and salt. Hoping to exploit the natural resources of New Mexico, Spanish explorers led entradas (expeditions), searching for a pass to the north. In 1581, entradas began to branch into the region.
Creating the Border: Art, Politics, and Stories
Lecture led by Dr. John Morán González
The Mexic-Arte Museum hosted “Creating the Border: Art, Politics, and Stories” Lecture led by Dr. John Morán González on Saturday, March 6th as part of the museum’s current virtual exhibition, Life and Experiences in the U.S/Mexico Borderlands on view now via the Mexic-Arte Museum’s website. The virtual lecture was live streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas. The Museum will continue to host four more lectures from now until May 1st.
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Online visitors can view Creating a Border virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!
Land, Fauna, and Allegories
The creation of the border state Texas, and its history and culture, was shaped by the Original People of the region, Spain, Mexico, and eventually the United States. At one time, la frontera or the frontier, referred to the border and the territory. Historically, six flags flew over Texas, representing Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy, and the U.S. The origin of Texas’ name comes from the word ‘táyshaʼ, which means “friends” in the Caddo language, combined with the Spaniards term Tejas to name the territory.
Due to its size and geologic features, Texas claims a diverse landscape with five growing zones. Texas consists of prairies, grasslands, forests, mountains, the coastline, and less than ten percent of desert. Texas as a sparse desert land is a popular misconception throughout both historical depictions and pop culture. The cattle, cotton, timber, and gas/oil industries have historically driven its economy. El Paso, Juárez, Mexico, and Las Cruces, New Mexico all form a triad called the Borderplex, the biggest bilingual and binational work force in the Western Hemisphere.
Land, Fauna, and Allegories: Performance, Art, and Video in the Chihuahua Desert
Lecture led by Dr. Laura Gutiérrez
The Mexic-Arte Museum hosted “Land, Fauna, and Allegories: Performance, Art, and Video in the Chihuahua Desert” a lecture and Q&A led by Dr. Laura Gutiérrez on Saturday, March 27th as part of the Museum’s current exhibition, Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands. The lecture was live streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live, and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas.
Online visitors can view Land, Fauna, and Allegories virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!
I am Immigrant, You Are
Studies indicate that Homo Sapiens appears to have occupied all of Africa about 150,000 years ago; some moved out of Africa as early as 125,000 years ago into Asia, marking the beginning of migratory patterns in human beings. Migration to the Americas took place 20,000 to 15,000 years ago. Early humans migrated due to many factors, such as changing climate, landscape, and inadequate food-supply for survival.
In the 16th century, an estimated 240,000 Europeans entered American ports. In the 19th century, over 50 million people left Europe for the Americas alone. The local populations, or Original People, were often overwhelmed by incoming settlers. The term immigration was coined in the 17th century, referring to non-warlike population movements between the emerging nation states. When people cross national borders during their migration, they are called migrants or immigrants from the perspective of the destination country.
Borders, Migration and Art. The U.S. Mexico Experience
Lecture led by Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas
The Mexic-Arte Museum hosted “Borders, Migration and Art. The U.S. Mexico Experience” a lecture and Q&A led by Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas on Saturday, April 3rd as part of the Museum’s current virtual exhibition, Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands. The lecture was live streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live, and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas.
Click here to Download
Online visitors can view I am Immigrant You Are virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!
Immigrant Dream and Nightmare
The borderland or la frontera is a living metaphor for the community who live and work there; in particular, the borderland is at the center of issues that emanate outward affecting the entire Latinx population. The selected artists interpret people’s dreams, aspirations, fears, struggles, and nightmarish misfortunes; their artworks also reveal a shared borderland cultural experience. “The American Dream” as a whole is an illusion; hard work, luck, and opportunity have become central to this idea, ignoring the reality. Many “opportunities” come from who you know, and the amount of privilege you were born into. Hard work often leads to nothing but more work, and you cannot rely on luck. The “Dream” many immigrants look to can easily turn into their worst nightmare thanks to economic disparity. The artists here depict an outlook concentrating on identity, social issues, racism, and false ideology.
The U.S. continues to control the sociopolitical environment of the borderland, affecting permanent residents and immigrants alike. America represents the land of opportunity, but to reach it, many must endure hardship and deprivation in the northward journey to el Norte, crossing from one side of the border to the other side (el otro lado) at the Rio Grande. Some willingly cross the border, while others are forced to cross, either fleeing violence back home, or being exploited by human trafficking practices. Although El Paso has a dominant Mexican – Mexican American/Chicanx ethnic presence, border culture is neither strictly Mexican nor American. Rather, it lives “in between” the two predominant cultures.
Mexican Mobility in Perspective: Building Futures / Closing Pathways
Lecture led by Dr. Sarah Lopez
The Mexic-Arte Museum hosted “Mexican Mobility in Perspective: Building Futures / Closing Pathways”, Lecture and Q&A led by Dr. Sarah Lopez on Saturday, April 17th as part of the Museum’s current virtual exhibition, Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands on view now via the Museum’s website. The virtual lecture was live streamed on Zoom and Facebook Live and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas.
Click here to Download
Online visitors can view Immigrant Dream and Nightmare virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!
The Culture Continues/ La Cultura Sigue
To better understand the culture of the borderland, one must remember that the land was a part of Mexico for many years. The community continued to grow and develop; cultural traditions were maintained, as well as transformed. As time went on, ongoing migration reinforced the culture. First, many fled the harsh conditions under the dictatorship of President Porfirio Díaz, then in the early 1900s, when numerous Mexicans migrated to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution. Immigration continues today, and migrants from Mexico and Latin America revitalize communities in the U.S. and rejuvenate American society as other immigrants have done throughout history. The largest sub-group in the total Latinx population, and the fastest growing ethnic minority, Mexican Americans represent nearly 11% of America’s total population, and comprise the bulk of the population in many cities throughout the U.S. Southwest.
In the 1960s, Mexican American/Chicanx activists organized the Chicano Movement (El Movimiento) to protest social injustice and discrimination suffered by the Mexican and Chicanx peoples. Inspired by Chicanidad (an awareness based on Chicanx identity), the Movement promoted cultural affirmation, political resistance, and self-determination in the struggle toward social freedom and equality. Chicanx art was greatly influenced by the Mexican Mural Movement and its ideology. Artists worked individually and in collectives to produce murals throughout the community.
La Cultura Sigue
Lecture led by Dr. David Maciel
Join the Mexic-Arte Museum on Saturday, May 1st starting at 11am CST for “La Cultura Sigue” Lecture led by Dr. David Maciel as part of the Museum’s current virtual exhibition, Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands on view now via the Museum’s website. The virtual lecture will be live streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live and moderated by Mexic-Arte Museum Curator & Director of Programs, Dr. George Vargas. Participants can pre-register for the event via Zoom by filling out info and clicking the Register button on this site or simply by viewing the lecture on the Museum’s Facebook page on the day of the event. Participants will get a chance to engage in a Q&A with Dr. David Maciel during the last few minutes of the virtual event!
Online visitors can view The Culture Continues/La Cultura Sigue virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!
The PastPerfect Online portal is where you can further explore the entire permanent collection. You can be more specific and run queries depending on the art you’re interested in researching. Mexic-Arte Museum’s PastPerfect Online portal is always being updated with artworks newly acquired by the museum, so it’s worth investigating periodically.
Arte Para Niños
Below are downloadable worksheets that can be printed or completed virtually on any mobile device. Tag (@mexic_artedu on Instagram) or email () with your completed worksheet for a chance to be featured on Mexic-Arte Museum’s social media! All featured advanced art lessons are TEKS aligned, and can be taught in and out of a classroom.
“When you first buy art, you start buying many disparate items and as your knowledge and taste becomes more sophisticated, you realize that there should be a focus. I decided to build a collection of Latino and Hispanic art which could be left as a cultural legacy to some organization that would make it available to Hispanics in general.”
– Juan Antonio Sandoval Jr.
From How a UTEP Librarian Became a Latino Art Collector Originally published November 14, 2014 By Kristopher Rivera / UTEP News Service
The Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands
An online exhibition and lecture series are made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.