The present exhibition at Mexic-Arte Museum, Mexico, the Border, and Beyond: Selections from the Juan Antonio Sandoval Jr. Collection, features artworks from the Juan Sandoval Collection, which Mr. Sandoval generously donated to the Museum in 2020. Also on display are books selected from Mr. Sandoval’s personal library, representing Mexican, Mexican American/Chicano, and Latin American art. Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands is a significant part of the exhibition in which artists depict the unique cultural history and social issues that define the borderlands or la frontera. Here, the art helps viewers to gain a better appreciation of the peculiar border experience, particularly as influenced by the ongoing relationship between Mexico and the U.S.
Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands is divided into five sections according to themes: Creating a Border; Land, Fauna, and Allegories; I am Immigrant You Are; Immigrant Dream and Nightmare; and The Culture Continues/La Cultura Sigue. Five humanities scholars each examine a selected theme. This humanities program is designed to encourage a deeper understanding of humanity in the broader culture of Texas, and in the global community.
As part of the Virtual Lecture Series dedicated to Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands, Dr. Sarah L. Lopez delivered the public lecture Immigrant Dream and Nightmare: Mexican Mobility in Perspective: Building Futures/Closing Pathway, on Saturday, April 17. Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Lopez related how migrant workers from Mexico use remittance monies to build homes to improve their future; noting how this construction shapes the architectural landscape in Mexico, and how remittances critically stimulate the Mexican economy. Dr. Lopez also pointed out that U.S. immigration policy dictates the renewed construction of detention centers built to house undocumented immigrants, consequently closing their pathway to the so-called American Dream. To view this recorded lecture by Lopez, click on the following button:
Additionally, the exhibition includes wall text that describes each of the five sections in Life and Experiences in the U.S./Mexico Borderlands and their respective themes. The following is the featured wall text in the exhibition for the section entitled Immigrant Dream and Nightmare:
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. Furthermore, for border dwellers living in a border culture can challenge their cultural identity. 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.