Gritty fences, laborers in the field, monarch butterflies over Chicago, and cheeky super heroes. These are all images and metaphors from The Gilberto Cárdenas Latino Art Collection, which evoke the everyday experience and complex history of Mexican Americans.
The artists in this collection remind us of the complex and contested history of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in 2008 over 30 million people of Mexican origin were counted in the United States, many working in the construction and service industries but many others working in information, finance, and other sectors of the economy. The artists tell us that immigration exists at the crossroads of national culture, politics, and economics but also in the lives of people, families, and communities. The artwork evokes the uncertainty—even danger—of migration, but it also suggests hope and resilience. And it reminds us that history is grounded in people's shared experiences within cultures more fluid and shape-shifting than the rigid lines drawn of national boundaries.
The exhibit is made possible due to the generosity of The Gilberto Cárdenas Latino Art Collection, with valuable co-sponsorship from the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies and the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Guest-curated by L. Stephen Velasquez, Associate Curator,Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History