Honoring and Reaffirming the Afro-Latinx Artists, History and Culture
Honoring and Reaffirming the Afro-Latinx Artists, History and Culture
In honor of Black History Month, we highlight the Afro-Latinx culture, presence, and impact of African people in the Americas. We share the artworks included in MX21 Resistance, Reaffirmation and Resilience.
Artworks in the MX21 Reaffirmation section speak to affirming the unique history and cultural diversity of our shared heritage, complex identity, and vitality shaped by experiences in the Americas. First People and their descendants throughout the Americas have struggled to affirm a place and identity. Affirmation of one’s culture is to strive for political change. Artists work to affirm, self-determine, and resist racial stereotypes. Our plurality represents First People, the African, the Mexicano, Mexican Americans, and other Latinx peoples. Our struggles to achieve liberty and social justice are one. We affirm our similarities and embrace our differences. Artists respond and create to contribute to understanding these complexities in the pursuit of social justice today. In MX21, we reflect on history and current reality here in the U.S., reclaiming and reaffirming shared history and experiences. Africans torn from their homeland brought to work the land; women forced through rape to produce a new generation of workers to fuel the colonial economy. African people in Latin America are decentered and blurred from history.
Artists have recovered, rewrote, and reconstructed history. Reclamation of indigenous roots has become a symbol of belonging. It is essential that we acknowledge the physical, economic, and psychological trauma that colonialism has inflicted on so many communities throughout the Americas. It is also essential to acknowledge historic and momentous moments of resistance and human rights movements continue today. In the following works, artists preserve connections to heritage by incorporating ancestral imagery into their art as a way for historical and cultural affirmation.
Thousands of Africans were brought to America as slaves. They came to join the ranks with the Indigenous people, the great mass of the oppressed and exploited. Sometimes they rebelled against their situation and their tormentors. Yanga, a courageous African man, led one such rebellion in Veracruz, which was crushed with bloody violence. Africans brought involuntarily are a part of Mexico’s history. Yanga or Nyanga (May 14, 1545) was an African who led a community of enslaved people in the highlands near Veracruz, Mexico during the early period of Spanish colonial rule. He successfully resisted a Spanish attack in 1609. In 1618, Yanga achieved an agreement with the colonial government for self-rule of the settlement. It was later called San Lorenzo and also San Lorenzo de Cerralvo. In the late 19th century, Yanga was named as a “national hero of Mexico” and “El Primer Libertador de las Americas”. In 1932 the settlement he formed, located in today’s state of Veracruz, was renamed as Yanga in his honor.
Hidalgo and his lieutenant Allende were executed by firing squad, at the end of a brief period of formidable struggles in which the popular forces, poorly organized, were beaten by a disciplined royalist army. Hidalgo was succeeded in the leadership of the Revolution of Independence by another distinguished clergyman, with enormous military capacity and a profound sense of the social transformations that were already imperative at that time. This was José María Morelos y Pavón. José María Morelos y Pavón, statesman and Roman Catholic priest, was one of the greatest insurgent military commanders during the Mexican War of Independence. Morelos was born into a Afro-Mexican) family in Valladolid, Mexico on September 30, 1765.
Vicente Ramón Guerrero Saldaña – (1782 –1831) was one of the revolutionary leaders of the Mexican War of Independence. As a son of the fabled tierra caliente, the hot region of the south between the Río Balsas and the Pacific coast, he was descended from the enslaved Africans of colonial Mexico, and from the indigenous people. Guerrero was of humble origins; in his youth he worked as a mule driver on his father’s mule run. His travels took him to different parts of Mexico where he heard of the ideas of independence. Through one of these trips he met rebel General José María Morelos y Pavon. In November 1810, Guerrero decided to join Morelos.
Upon the assassination of Morelos by the Spaniards, Guerrero became Commander in Chief. After Independence, Guerrero was elected the second president of Mexico in 1829. As president, Guerrero went on to champion the cause of not only the racially oppressed, but also the economically oppressed. Guerrero formally abolished slavery on September 16, 1829.
Yelaine Rodriguez, Ezili Dantor, Freedom & The African Diaspora, (Detail), 2021, Photographic Tapestry, Cotton, Vintage French Metallic Lace, Mexican Milagros, 30″ x 36″ Courtesy of the artist.
Ezili Dantor, Freedom & The African Diaspora is a multi-layered project of the artist interpretation of the Bois Caiman Ceremony of August 1791. It is part of Rodriguez’s series: We Are Here Because You Were There, inspired by cultural theorist Stuart Hall. In this secret ceremony, the enslaved Africans gathered and organized the first significant slave insurrection of the Haitian Revolution against the French colonizers of Saint-Domingue. It served as a religious ritual and tactical congregation, where the Afro-syncretic religion of Voodoo played an instrumental role in which some people believe formed a more homogeneous Black culture in Haiti. It is also the birth site of the mother of Haiti, Haitian loa (Gods/Spirits) Ezili Dantor, syncretized with The Black Madonna of Częstochowa.
Five hundred years ago the wind changed everything. The fire of ambition devoured Quetzalcoatl and his children mercilessly. The cold metal blinded the innocent blood. Taking lives in exchange for gold was the only feasible plan. But they discovered that Quetzals do not live in cages and cannot die because they are dreams that fly. Now our history lives in the color of our skin, the shape of our bodies, our language. Our culture resists time. Our culture is the resistance of eurocentric values.
“My mural is a historical portrait. The satirical style in my work reinforces the theatrics of life and how the most valuable things are relative- like the lives exchanged for gold 500 years ago.”
We thank Jesus Becerra for Preserving Traditions in Austin!
This month marks the thirty-third year of the opening of La Mexicana Bakery in Austin, Texas in 1989. It also is the last month that it will prepare and serve the delicious pan dulce and Mexican dishes to the community. I have had the honor of knowing and working with Señor Jesus, Rosie and La Mexicana for all these many years.
The culinary and pastry arts are in fact that – arts that we acknowledge and recognize. We would say that we all appreciate these even more than all the other arts. In addition to seeing the beautiful forms of the pan dulce, we all can taste and eat them, and we receive nutrition.
Jesus Becerra and La Mexicana have been an important part of the Museum’s programs like Dia de los Muertos since he opened in 1989.
Throughout October, Señor Jesus would arrive very early in the morning to bake the hundreds of pan de muerto in various creative forms and colors for the Museum, schools, and organizations so that we could place the pan on the ofrendas for our loved ones. La Mexicana has also contributed to maintaining traditions and festive days like the Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Dia de los Reyes with the Rosca de Reyes for all the families.
Señor Becerra has also been very generous and has donated delicious bread for events like the Taste of Mexico and to schools and non-profit organizations. He is an outstanding member of our community.
On Feb.16th the City of Austin and the Consulate General of Mexico recognized and thanked Señor Jesus Becerra, Rosie Becerra and the La Mexicana staff and family for their contributions and service to the community. It is through the hard work of individuals like Señor Jesus that we are keeping our beautiful traditions alive. We wish Jesus and Rosie the best and sincerely we thank you!
Chicana/o Art Movimiento y Más en Austen, Tejas 1960s-1980s
Exhibition dates April 8 – June 19, 2022
This spring Mexic-Arte Museum presents Chicana/o Art Movimiento y Más en Austen, Tejas 1960s-1980s. This exhibition will feature artwork from Mexic-Arte’s permanent collection and loans highlighting the rich and under-told history of the Chicano Art movement in Austin from the 1960s to the 1980s. See original artwork, exhibition notices, films that inspired the movement, murals, performances, scholarly presentations, and photographs of important events documenting the push for civil rights in Austin, Texas, and across this country. Prominent artists in the exhibition include Santa Barraza, Sam Coronado, Carolina Flores, Rey Gaytan, Marsha Gomez, Luis Guerra, Luis Gutierrez, Bill Leisner, Sylvia Orozco, Amado Peña, Alan Pogue, Pio Pulido, Manuel “Chaca” Ramirez, Vicente “Chente” Rodriguez, Ishmael Soto, José F. Treviño, Raul Valdez, and others.
Last Week to See MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience
Come in this week to see MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience ending on Feb. 27th. Throughout 2021, Mexico is observing and commemorating major events in history: the falling of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán, the invasion by Spain, and the Independence of Mexico. Mexic-Arte Museum presents an exhibition and programs in conjunction with Mexico’s 2021 events, and reaffirm our common cultural history.
The exhibition MX 21-Resistance, Reaffirmation & Resilience is divided into three sections: Resistance, Reaffirmation, and Resilience. Resistance refers to the Original Peoples resisting the Spanish invasion and occupation of Mexico, which was really not “conquered.” Reaffirmation speaks to affirming the unique history and cultural diversity of our shared heritage. Resilience represents the on-going evolution of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Latinx peoples, despite and because of struggles to achieve liberty, social justice, and plurality. Invited artists respond to these themes to help the public better understand and appreciate how Mexico’s history has impacted and inspired our shared U.S.- Mexico cultural history in the Americas, as Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinx peoples.
Participating artists include Luis Abreux, Santa Barraza, Cande Aguilar, Angel Cabrales, Tomas Filsinger, Eduardo Garcia, Tita Griesbach, Mari Hernandez, Michael Menchaca, Delilah Montoya, Juan Navarrete, Yelaine Rodriguez, Sergio Sanchez Santamaria, Andy Villarreal, “Kill Joy”, and artwork from the Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection.
The goal is to participate in Mexico’s remembrance, and at the same time, reflect on history and current reality here in the U.S., reclaiming and reaffirming shared heritage and experiences through the work of contemporary artists.
Changarrito with Jason Valdez
Support our February 2022 Changarrito Artist, Jason Valdez! In the spirit of Changarrito, the pop-up mobile art gallery where artists can sell their work to the public, Changarrito with Jason Valdez allows the artist to bring their work to you. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on original work available for purchase as well as behind the scenes of the artist’s work, space, and creative process.
Changarrito Instagram Live Interview on Thursday, February 24th
You’re invited to Mexic-Arte Museum’s Changarrito Instagram Live event with Artist Jason Valdez on Thursday, February 24th from 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm CST taking place virtually through the Museum’s Instagram account @mexic_arte! Isabel Servantez, Mexic-Arte Museum’s Curator Of Exhibitions and Director Of Programs, will facilitate the virtual event with a series of questions directed at the artist including a Q&A taking place during the last 20 minutes of the event.
Jason Valdez was born and raised in McAllen, TX. The son of a diesel mechanic and a classical singer, he grew up around a unique mix of both artistic and industrial influences. As a young boy, he developed an aptitude for drawing that has stayed with him throughout his life. Valdez earned his Bachelors of Fine Arts in 2007 from the University of Texas Pan American and began his teaching career the following year. In the spring of 2017, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Currently, he is working as the Associate Professor of Art and Gallery Director at Victoria College.
“Having grown up in a working class family, my art investigates the similarities between the vocational trades and fine arts practices along with the blue-collar work ethic. Since the trades and fine arts share a common history of guilds and the apprentice system, I work to bridge the gap between these two skill sets by combining traditional and non-traditional art materials. I utilize things such as used motor oil, grease, and the recognizable red shop rag in my art making process. I am fascinated by working class principles and I use the motor as a symbol of this spirit. I admire the fact that these men and women are out there, rain or shine, because people are depending on them to get the job done…That’s What Makes Them THAT Guy. My process is just as important as the finished product in that I am utilizing power tools and carpentry skills in creating my pieces. Just like the mechanic or the electrician, my work requires me to wrestle with tangible things and problems that might arise while working in the studio.”
LACMA & Mexic-Arte Museum presented: Part II | Resistance, Reaffirmation, and Resilience Virtual Panel
The Mexic-Arte Museum and LACMA presented: X as Intersection—Latinx Artists in Conversation: Resistance, Reaffirmation, and Resilience on Saturday, February 5th in partnership with the U.S. Latinx Art Forum. The virtual panel gathered Latinx artists Adriana Corral, Rafa Esparza, Michael Menchaca, Delilah Montoya, Celia Álvarez Muñoz, in conversation with Sylvia Orozco, Co-founder and Executive Director, Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin and Rita Gonzalez, Terri and Michael Smooke Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The artists shared their experiences and practices from a personal, historical and socio-political perspective of challenging institutional norms.
Hello Kenzie Grogan, the New Mexic-Arte Museum Registrar!
Hello! My name is Kenzie Grogan and I am a recent graduate from The University of Texas at Austin! I received my BA in Art History and minor in Arts Administration and Management. I spent my senior year as a Curatorial Intern at Mexic-Arte, and I am super excited to return as the Museum Registrar!
Welcome Alonso Estrada, Mexic-Arte Museum’s New Preparator Associate
Welcome Alonso Estrada, Mexic-Arte Museum’s new Preparator Associate. Alonso was born in Fort Worth, Texas but grew up in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas Mexico. At the age of 15 he moved to Laredo, Texas where he studied Fine Arts at the Laredo community college. He also attended the Art Institute of Houston majoring in animation. During the past 10 years, he has successfully created murals and installations for different museums and galleries, such as the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston, and MF Gallery in New York and Italy. He was also part of the mural project “ Welcome Wall” curated by American contemporary artist, Ron English, Tempo 2D in Austin and has assisted during artistic projects for the Museum since 2019. He has mastered different techniques in sculpture, painting, and digital art, and currently prefers working with media 3D sculpting using digital programs. He enjoys experimenting and creating with augmented reality. Alonso is excited about helping the art community, and to work on all the future exhibitions!
Goodbye Savannah, Registrar/Preparator Associate
Mexic-Arte Museum bids farewell to Savannah Diaz, Registrar/Preparator Associate. Savannah played a vital role in all Museum exhibitions, gallery layout, and Museum permanent collections. She will be missed as she embarks on new ventures and continues her exemplary work as the Assistant Director at Ivester Contemporary. Mexic-Arte Museum staff wishes her all the best on this new adventure!
Totally Cool Totally Art Exhibition Opens
Every year, Austin Parks and Recreation art program Totally Cool Totally Art invites the Mexic-Arte Museum to jury the artwork created for the year by the teens who visit rec centers all over Austin. This partnership has been happening for over 20 years now, and brings the Mexic-Arte selected artwork to exhibit at the museum. This year’s exhibit will be on exhibit from February 14th to February 28th with a reception for the teens and families on the 23rd. Works done in painting, drawing, sculpture, digital, and short films done by Austin’s teens can be seen in this exhibit curated by Mexic-Arte Museum.
amArte Workshop in February
Mexic-Arte Musuem’s new education outreach program amArte held its second workshop this month at William B. Travis High School for Ms. Chong-Sing’s advanced art classes. amArte brought guest master artist José Tomás Garcia, a Venezuelan immigrant with a portfolio primarily centered around collaging using the Venezuelan currency Bolivar which has lost all economic value due to hyperinflation. Students reflected on self-assigning value to physical objects (primarily 2D) which as a society we deem worthless. Student’s collages resourced scrap snack packaging and other discarded junk mail to create shapes and color palettes for original collage designs to reiterate how artists can turn “worthless” consumerist residue into an upcycled valuable art piece and expression.
Upcoming amArte Workshop in March
The third upcoming amArte workshop will be held at the Texas Empowerment Academy for Mr. Wilson’s advanced art classes. Wilson’s students have been working on social justice posters for a school wide contest. For this workshop, contest participants will get to translate their designs into a linocut version of their design instructed by guest master artist Killjoy. Killjoy is a Filipino-American professional printmaker and artist who resides in Houston and often works and showcases work in Austin. This workshop has also gained an additional community sponsor for this partnership; the Austin chapter of The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of more than 16,000 professional women of color in 288 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.
Screen it! in the Schools – Thank you, Akins!
In February Mexic-Arte’s Screen It! outreach program partnered with Akins Early College High School photography classes on a cyanotype workshop led by Artist Educator, Selene Bataille. Cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic printing processes and involves creating a blue photographic print with UV light. Akins Photo students learned about the history of cyanotype and learned how to create their own photographic print based on the concept of family heritage. Akins photo students created prints on paper using a collage technique with family photos and after creating a print on paper, students also created cyanotype printed tote bags with their images. Akins High School has been a valuable partner with the Screen It! program and we look forward to many more workshops with Akins photography classes!
Say Hello to Spring 2022 Interns!
Diane Campos is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin double majoring in Studio Art and Mexican American Studies with a minor in African and African Diaspora Studies. In their free time they like to paint, try out new recipes and find hidden gems around the city to explore. They look forward to experience their Marketing Internship at the Mexic-Arte Museum this semester!
Maia Castillo is currently an undergraduate student photographer at St Edward’s University pursuing a BA in Photography and Media Arts with a minor in Graphic design. Using their commercial style of graphic design alongside their fine art photography, they explore identity, mental health, and social and environmental phenomena. They have been in the Student Juried Exhibition at St Edward’s fine arts gallery for three years in a row and have their final senior gallery exhibition this spring. Maia is looking forward to better understanding her Mexican American culture past her knowledge and is excited to connect with fellow artists of a similar background to create new designs. You can find her work at maiacastillo.com
Taste of Mexico, A Cinco de Mayo Celebration
In Support of Mexic-Arte Museum’s Art Education Programs
Mexic-Arte Museum invites you to Taste of Mexico 2022 taking place on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at Fair Market. This year’s Taste of Mexico looks at chiles; the vast variety of taste, color, and shape that make-up the dishes of Mexico. Ever-present in Mexican cuisine, traditional to modern, the gastronomical properties of chiles creates an unyielding plethora of flavor and spice. Rich, earthy, hot, mild- there is no end to the possibilities of this unique food, highlighted by its importance in the cultural practices of the peppers homeland. Proceeds from the event benefit the Museum’s arts education program.
Taste of Mexico serves to support Mexic-Arte Museum’s art education programs. Over the past thirty-six years, the Museum has empowered Austin youth through its exemplary art education programs. Sponsorship and ticket sales for the event will allow the Museum to continue to enrich the lives of over 10,000 children and families annually in the Austin area through its family days, internships, tours, and the SCREEN IT! Program, which is regarded as one of the best in the nation, having received the prestigious 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, a project of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities presented by Honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama.
Became a Taste of Mexico Sponsor! For questions and more information, contact Development Coordinator Danielle Renae Houtkooper at 512-200-7276 or email at .
Thank you for your support and we look forward to celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with you! Additional news on the event will be shared soon!
Amplify Austin Day
Join Us for Amplify Austin – March 2- 3, 2022
Amplify Austin is here! After a successful campaign last year, the Mexic-Arte Museum is excited to announce that we will once again be participating in the day of giving taking place on March 2nd – 3rd. You can participate by visiting the Museum’s Amplify Austin page through the I Live Here I Give Here portal. Help us as we try to meet our goal of $2,500. A donation of $25 gets you a free year long Individual Membership to the Museum. Proceeds from Amplify Austin day go towards putting on the education component of the Viva la Vida Day of the Dead Festival. Education Associates lead learning activities outside the Museum in Mariposa plaza. Families are encouraged to participate. The festival is always free to the public. For more information on Amplify Austin day check out their website.
Check out Las Flores – La Vida Mix ‘n’ Mash online!
The Las Flores – La Vida exhibit may be over, but the Mix ‘n’ Mash art is available for purchase on our online store! Made on quality panels donated by Ampersand Art Supply, each limited-edition Mix ‘n’ Mash artwork is uniquely crafted. Browse works from local artists, with proceeds benefiting the museum’s exhibitions and programs.
Exhibition and Art Education Programs Support: 3M, AeroMexico, Ampersand Art Supply, Applied Materials, Austin Convention Center, Austin Independent School District Creative Classrooms, Charles Beckman, Michael Best, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Brown Foundation, Brown Distributing Company, Dr. Frank Cardenas, City of Austin Community Youth Development Program, Clay Imports, Endeavor Real Estate Group, Fonda San Miguel, Tom Gilliland, Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, Juan J Gutierrez and Rosa K Gutierrez, H-E-B, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, GTOPS, Hendler Flores Law, Humanities Texas, Junior League of Austin, JP Peace Love & Happiness Foundation, Ann McEldowney, Mindpop, National Endowment for the Arts, Ingrid and James Taylor, Mike Taylor, Michael Torres, Serie Print Project, Morgan Stanley, Efficient Steel, Bettina & Travis Mathis, Elizabeth Rogers, Juan Antonio Sandoval Jr., Rosa Santis & Pedro SS Services, Marina Sifuentes, Susto Mezcal, Texas Mutual, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Delia Sifuentes, Texas Gas Service, Texas Commission on the Arts, Tribeza, Univision 62, Univision Radio, Lola Wright Foundation, and Jane & Manuel Zuniga.