Border Crossings: Mexico and the American Southwest represents a cultural conversation between Mexico and the United States. Paul Pletka’s triptych introduces this installation, a monumental work inspired by Mexico’s Spanish Colonial and Pre-Columbian heritage as well as contemporary Mexican-American culture. Once part of colonial Spain and then Mexico, the American Southwest in part shares this legacy.
Four broad themes trace common links among this selection of artworks created between 1916 and 1950: women artists, landscape, indigenous subjects, and portraits. Women artists were pioneering modernists, though often under-recognized in their day, and represent a diversity of unique visions. The border between Mexico and the United States was a permeable one, and artists’ landscapes celebrate our shared geography and natural environment. Indigenous subjects were depicted by artists with different aims. Some celebrated indigenous heritage, while others produced romantic portrayals for the tourist market. In portraiture, both anonymous subjects and real individuals were portrayed with great dignity. Crossing borders affords opportunities to explore shared artistic approaches, both here and there.