|Fiesta and facts at Mexican art exhibit|
|Written by Davonte Longmire, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 06 February 2013 11:44|
The McLean County Museum of History is now featuring “¡Fiesta! A Celebration of Mexican Popular Arts” and is free to all ISU students.
The exhibit features over 200 pieces of art ranging from pre-Columbian, early Mexican and twentieth century art. Specifically, there is great focus on the 1920s through the 1930s time period that explains why there was dense travel to Mexico. Mexican art is unique, influential on art today and should be appreciated.
The purpose of the exhibit is to place importance on the roles Mexican art has played in the U.S. It is important to know the history and influences of the past and how these themes play into today’s society and economy. Through the exhibit, McLean County has an opportunity to enrich their knowledge of another culture and its impact.
In 1848, after the Mexican-American War, the U.S. obtained a majority of the land in southwestern territory — Texas, Utah, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. The war was predominately fought over borders and territories, resulting in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
After such devastation in the Mexican territories, many confused immigrants entered U.S. territories and decided to stay for the chance of gaining wealth in the U.S. rather than face the oppression of the Spanish caste system.
During the 20s and 30s, Americans found the Mexican and southwestern territories more desirable because of the harsh economic times World War I left America in. People could either find work in those territories or travel by train on a short trip out of the depression.
“The exhibit is a time traveling experience,” Susan Hartzold, curator for the exhibit, said.
“The exhibit is organized in a chronological pattern. You enter in the pre-Columbian era, featuring Mayan artifacts and information about them; then you move on to the 18th century, learning about the economy and Profirio Diaz’s reign over Mexico; then you enter the 20th century where it is further divided into states,” she added.
The states include Northern Mexico, Guerrero, Mexico, Puebla, Jalisco, Nayarit, Morelos, Guanajuato, Central Mexico, Tlaxcala and the Oaxaca. Each section features artwork that includes ceramics, textiles, paper-maché, lacquerware, basketry, carved wood, leather, glass and more. There is a tiny house in the exhibit with a tin roof and it conveys just how it would feel to walk down a tiny marketplace setting in Mexico.
“The Mexican culture is relevant to even Bloomington-Normal,” Hartzold explained, “there are center themes that even entered here. A furniture shop built a tiny casita (house) and sold Mexican themed art and furniture in the tiny house.”
“My favorite piece in the exhibit is an embroidered dress,” Hartzold said, “It is so gorgeous and a lot of the pieces here in the 20th century section are aimed after tourists. I love this piece because of the vivid colors, the attention to details — it is just so fantastic. The upper part is called a yoke and has a smocking effect. The smocking effect is basically weaving the cloth to get a ruffled and gathered effect on the gown.”
Another interesting part of the exhibit are the different motifs that are expressed in the works. The China Poblana was in three different country sections and the tale is basically that this led to the invention of the Mexican Hat dance and helped inspire the colors and style of the Mexican flag.
Among the unique features, a portion of the exhibit is interactive. In the beginning you can grab a travel journal, which is about the size of a passport, and at different places throughout the exhibit you can stamp your book to signify where you have gone on your adventure.
At the end of the journey, if you return to the reception desk with your book filled, you get a special prize. Also, there is a possibility to create “un ojo de Dios” (a God’s eye), participate in the Dia de los Muertos mascaras (Day of the Dead masks), and even write a postcard to leave or send to someone.
“The ‘¡Feista! A Celebration of Mexican Popular Arts’ is a great exhibit,” Hartzold said. “You will be amazed by the richness of the Mexican art — it’s really so innovative and creative. There are so many different mediums in creating the art and you learn so much about the culture.”