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In this curatorial statement, Patricio Chávez and Madeleine Grynsztejn, co-curators of the exhibition La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience (1993), describe the project as the “central manifestation” of the collaboration between two San Diego institutions—Centro Cultural de la Raza and Museum of Contemporary Art—whose joint effort sought to address demands for the equal cultural representation of diverse groups. Chavez and Grynsztejn discuss the dynamics of the collaboration between a community-based organization and one of San Diego’s most important mainstream institutions. They emphasize their curatorial commitment to including in the exhibit only artists with longstanding, deep ties to the border region for the purpose of developing a show that would promote a particularly critical, engaged vision of the border experience. They acknowledge certain omissions of the show, including the absence of the participation of a co-curator from Mexico. The authors suggest the exhibition is most important for the unprecedented collaboration it represents. The remainder of the document is devoted to acknowledging the support of numerous individuals, organizations, and institutions in facilitating the exhibition.


The exhibition, La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience was a unique collaboration organized in 1993 between the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego—a large mainstream museum—and the Centro Cultural de la Raza—a small community cultural center. As such, it countered the prevailing trend in the late-1980s and into the 1990s of major museums co-opting Chicano border art and turning “the border” into a strictly metaphoric, non-political concept. Though not exclusively comprised of Chicano/Latino artists, the La Frontera/The Border exhibition maintained the focus on the border as a geographical site and on its sociopolitical reality. Despite the critics and the controversy that surrounds the topic of the U.S./Mexico border, the essay attests to the degree to which the show functioned as a truly critical, collective effort between the two organizing entities, thus becoming a model for other institutions.

Also see separate catalogue essays by co-curators of the exhibition Patricio Chávez (doc. no. 809385) and Madeline Grynsztejn (doc. no. 809400), as well as Texas author Gloria Anzaldúa (doc. no. 809763) and San Diego artist David Avalos (doc. no. 809415).

Tere Romo.
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
© Madeleine Grynsztejn, Chicago, IL.
Courtesy of Patricio Chávez, San Diego, CA