The current exhibition at Mexic-Arte Museum Mexico, the Border, and Beyond: Selections from the Juan Sandoval Collection is dedicated to Life and Experiences in the U.S ./ Mexico Borderlands; an important part of the exhibition that is organized according to five sections, each with a theme interpreted by selected artists. The fifth and last section The Culture Continues / La Cultura Sigue speaks to the revolution and fluorescence of Mexican, Mexican American, and Latinx cultures. Because of and despite of their ongoing struggle for civil rights, Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and other Latinx people continue to progress and contribute to their respective culture in the U.S. / Mexico borderlands and beyond.
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, 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. Themes in the murals included Chicanx history, women’s cultural history, the United Farm Workers (UFW), cholo and street culture, familial relations, and religious iconography. Overtime, Chicanx murals became diverse in content and style. In Texas, artists from Brownsville, Kingsville, and Laredo, helped to foster the emergence of Chicanx art throughout the borderlands. Artists exhibited in major cities like Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and throughout the state’s Valle (Valley). Eventually, Chicanx art migrated from the U.S. Southwest to Northern and Eastern states, changing to reflect differences and similarities in these regions. Chicanx art today has expanded throughout the nation, and Latinx artists from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and many other Latin American cultures with roots in the U.S. contribute to the contemporary art scene. Mexican and Mexican American experiences have heavily influenced popular culture. While English is the national language in the U.S., Spanish comes in at a close second, and is the dominant language in many cities. Mexican influenced cuisine has increasingly become part of the American menu. Visual arts, music, literature, dance, theatre, and film melded into mainstream culture. Catholicism and Christianity have merged with pre-Columbian traditions, creating new subsects of religious ideology. Immigration continues to inspire a creative outpouring in Mexican and Chicanx cultures at the border and in the American heartland.