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In this review of the exhibition Art of the Other Mexico: Sources and Meanings, Victor Alejandro Sorell writes that the border is the exhibition’s overarching and master trope. The exhibition features works of art by the “greater Mexican community,” which are organized according to three intertwined themes: Land, Family, and Afterlife. Sorell considers the works as harbingers of a “brave new world” as postulated by Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as well as a dualistic world constructed by those of Mexican descent negotiating geopolitical borders. He also employs the figures of Ariel and Caliban—taken from the cultural and theoretical background of José Enrique Rodó (1900)—to support his analysis of what he argues are the artificial and contentious categories of “colonizer” and “colonized.” Sorell contends that the exhibit may raise more questions than it answers, such as: Are viewers asked to explore two different worlds in one exhibition, or are they to understand that the different worlds are rhetorical constructions? He also wonders why the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, which mounted the exhibition, neglected to acknowledge its debt to Latino cultural groups in Chicago and elsewhere. Ultimately, Sorell concludes that the exhibit is well conceived, and that it is important because it brings together works by significant and representative Chicano artists who recognize the duality of their cultural patrimony. He also concludes that the themes of Land, Family, and Afterlife provide a solid basis for examining works created in the “other Mexico.”

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This review by the Chicago-based art historian and activist Victor Alejandro Sorell appeared in May 1994 in The New Art Examiner (a critical journal published in Chicago in 1973–2002). In it he discusses the exhibition Art of the Other México: Sources and Meaning, which was organized by the Chicano artist Amalia Mesa-Bains and the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago in 1993, and featured the work of twenty Chicano artists including Carmen Lomas Garza, Esther Hernandez, Luis Jiménez, John Valdez, among many others. (See doc. no. 782743 on Mesa-Bains’ exhibition catalogue essay.) In this essay, Sorell considers the dualistic aspect of Chicano art and the strong presence that the border, mainly as physical reality and metaphorical concept, exerts in Chicano arts and culture.

Researcher
Victor Sorell; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Team
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Credit
Courtesy of Victor Alejandro Sorell and the Institute for Latino Studies, Chicago, IL