Things That Matter

Kids On Both Sides Of The Border Wall Now Have Something Small To Smile About Thanks To An Artist Who Installed Seesaws

rrael/ Instagram

Lately, when you think of the U.S-Mexico border, you think of the children being kept in cages, of migrant folks being kept in unthinkable conditions in detention prisons, and you think of the possible construction of Donald Trump’s beloved wall–among other negative connotations that the border brings. Then there are times when heartwarming images and scenes from the border show that despite the weaponization of the border, we’re still connected to one another in many ways. 

Architect and artist Ronald Rael designed and installed pink seesaws at the border for children from the United States and Mexico to play together.

The art installation, “Teeter-Totter Wall,” was created by Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University.

The custom-built seesaws were placed on both sides of the steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico. The artist called it “one of the most incredible experiences of his career” in a post he shared on Instagram. 

About a decade ago, both Rael and San Fratello had designed the concept for the seesaw at the border for a book titled “Borderwall as Architecture.” Now, the drawings became a reality. 

Despite the negative headlines that dominate the news cycle every day, it’s refreshing to see artists like Ronald Rael use their platform and creativity to spark positivity and strengthen our sense of community. 

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” Rael wrote in his Instagram caption. Rael also gave a shoutout to the team who helped make this powerful art installation a reality in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico.

CNN also points out that the New Mexico town is also where a militia detained migrants in April (the ACLU called it a kidnapping), and where a private group began building its own border wall with the use of millions donated to a GoFundMe campaign. 

Last week, the Supreme Court also gave Trump a victory in his fight for the construction of a wall along the border. Further, the Supreme Court allowed the administration to use $2.5 billion in military funds for it. 

Despite all of the negative news surrounding the border, it was a different scene there on Monday near the Sunland Park stretch. Instead, it showed a heartwarming and lighter scene compared to what we’ve recently seen.

The art installation that this artist created is also meant to serve as a reminder. A reminder that “we are connected” and “what happens on one side impacts the other.”

The pink seesaws showed people from both sides of the border coming together in a unifying act. Children and adults alike on U.S soil were recorded playing with children from the other side. These light-hearted scenes from the border make one for if only a second forget the actual reality of it all. 

RAICES, a non-profit focusing on immigration legal services in Texas, shared on Twitter that “Art is such a powerful vehicle for change”

In the past, other scenes of art installations at the border have made rounds. For example, The Guardian notes the time when an architectural practice in Mexico designed a pink interpretation of Trump’s border wall. 

Claudia Tristán, the Director of Latinx Messaging for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also praised the art installation for the message it spread. 

“The symbolism of the seesaw is just magical,” she wrote in a tweet. “A #Border fence will not keep us from our neighbors.”

The video of architect and artist Ronald Rael that’s also making rounds on social media shows him saying that the seesaw that there are still “good relations the people of Mexico and the United States.” Therefore, the seesaw can portray that we are “equal” and the wall, he says, cuts those relationships between us. 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that with or without the U.S.-Mexico border, much of this land belonged to and will always belong to Native Americans.

We need to remember that the homelands of tribes including the Kumeyaay, Pai, Cocopah, O’odham, Yaqui, Apache and Kickapoo peoples were all split into two by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsen Purchase–which is what makes up modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas

So while it is important to highlight the positive and humanizing images on the U.S.-Mexico border when we can, we should also be mindful of the indigenous communities to which this land belongs to. 

An Artist In Indiana Is Drawing Iconic Singers And Actors As Aztec Characters And It Is Amazing

Entertainment

An Artist In Indiana Is Drawing Iconic Singers And Actors As Aztec Characters And It Is Amazing

qetzaart / Instagram

For the last few years, Jorge Garza has been making a name for himself in the world of art with his Aztec-inspired drawings infused with pop culture figures. Garza’s Instagram page is a showcase of his unique work that includes illustrations of Latin figures like the Chapulín and luchador fighters. He goes by the artist name Quetza as a nod to his Aztec work that he’s heavily influenced by. 

Whether its the graphics, colors, and finishes in his work, Garza’s work is a testament to his knowledge and passion for Aztec art. His work showcases many sharp details and takes a classic process, from pencil sketches to digitization. While his style is varied in some ways from original Aztec style work he still includes details like the use of skulls, snakes, and details of Mexican culture. Garza also has his own online store where he showcases and sells many of his own original designs. Currently, he is working on an art book that will be focusing on his passion of Aztec/Pop Culture. 

While the Northwest Indiana artist has been around for quite some time, he might have gotten his biggest moment yet as his drawing of the “Queen of Tejano” got quite the attention online. Within hours of posting his “Aztec Selena” illustration on Facebook, the image was met with overwhelming attention from fans and strangers alike.  

Anytime you can pay tribute to the queen Selena you’re going to get love on social media.

Credit: qetzaart / Instagram

His Selena artwork was quickly shared and spread across social media with many in return getting to look at Garza’s overall portfolio of work. Upon first posting the sketch on Facebook Wednesday, Garza had no clue that it would receive more than 5,000 shares and well over 3,000 likes.

“I love Aztec artwork and its been a big influence in my work,” Garza told My San Antonio. “I respect Selena and the influence she has had on Mexican-American culture so I uploaded it … and I did not expect the feedback I had. It’s overwhelming.”

He says his viral drawing is a testament to the love and adoration that Selena fans still have even after all these years after her passing. Garza had planned to draw this specific piece for years and felt like now was the perfect time to put together this tribute to the “Como la Flor” singer. 

His collection of Aztec-inspired illustrations come from a special place in Garza’s heart. He grew up with a love for Mexican pre-Hispanic art that he learned about at a young age.

Credit: qetzaart / Instagram

As a young boy living in Indiana, Garza learned about Aztec culture and the complexity of the civilizations during that time period. But it was the artwork during that time that truly inspired him to become an artist. Since then, Garza has devoted himself to learning more about Aztec graphics and culture. 

While he gets inspiration from Aztec history, Garza has also thrown in a bit of his personal for pop culture into his artwork. Whether that’s including characters from X-Men, Batman, Marvel or Transformers, it’s his way of staying true to himself all while paying tribute to the past. 

Besides just illustrations, Garza has shown his versatility as an artist when he previously released a horror comic called Wrath of the Giver. He’s also put out a compilation book of Aztec art and pop culture with some of his best work so far. 

Fans of his work took to social media to share their appreciation for Garza’s latest illustration. 

Credit: @nate_sdsu / Twitter

Garza has proven to be an artistic inspiration to some on social media who are praising him for his work and his tribute to Latin art. There is a growing market for pop culture-inspired work like Garza’s all over the internet and with his latest piece blowing up we’re sure this isn’t the last time we see one of his pieces circulating on social media. 

For fans of Garza’s work, he’ll be at the Big Texas Comicon at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from Sept. 20-22. 

READ: 5 Years After They Went Missing, The Case Of The 43 Missing Ayotzinapa Students Is Nowhere Near Answered

This Exhibition In North Carolina Is Spotlighting The Work And Rocky Relationship Between Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera

Entertainment

This Exhibition In North Carolina Is Spotlighting The Work And Rocky Relationship Between Frida Kahlo And Diego Rivera

An exhibition on the esteemed Mexican artists, lovers, and icons Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera is coming to North Carolina. On October 26, the North Carolina Museum of Art will open the Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. The anticipated exhibition will include paintings, drawings, photography and film that aims to capture the 20th century artists’ bodies of work as well as their friendships and conflicts with political figures and their own impassioned and tumultuous personal relationships.

 

“Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection will emphasize a remarkable chapter in art history that is at once Mexican and global,” museum director Valerie Hillings told the ArtfixDaily, a publication covering curated art news.

Today, their tempestuous relationship is as famous as some of the artists’ most popular works. 

fridakahlo / Instagram

Kahlo and Rivera met in June 1928 at a party thrown by photographer Tina Modotti. At the time, a young, bold Kahlo asked Rivera to look at her paintings to see if he thought that she had enough talent to succeed. Rivera, impressed by her work, later spoke about that encounter, saying, “It was obvious to me that this girl was an authentic artist.” The pair soon started a relationship, though Rivera was 20 years older than Kahlo and already had two common-law wives. It was the start to a messy, atypical romance.

Marrying at a civil ceremony at the town hall of Coyoacán in 1929, despite the disapproval of Kahlo’s mother, their marriage included immense heartbreak. 

fridakahlo / Instagram

Over the years, the couple experienced and fought over everything from failed abortions and miscarriages to ailing physical health, to extra-marital affairs, including same-gender relationships from the gender-bending Kahlo. In 1939, the couple even divorced, only to remarry a year later with little change in their passionate yet rocky affair. Aside from the infidelity, rage, and distress that brewed in their personal relationship, the pair was often also at odds with political leaders as well. As communists, the revolutionary nature of Rivera’s murals, as well as Kahlo’s self-portraits and party affiliations, often put them at odds with political and religious leaders.

“Diego Rivera’s personality, politics, and monumental, social realist murals made him a celebrity during his lifetime. While he once overshadowed his equally talented wife, Frida Kahlo’s fame has far outstripped her husband’s in the years since her death,” Hillings added.

The pieces presented at the exhibition come from the long-time collection of Jacques and Natasha Gelman. According to ArtfixDaily, the Gelmans became Mexican citizens in 1942 and at the time started amassing Mexican art. Their collection includes Mexican modernists, like Kahlo and Rivera, who became friends with the Gelmans, as well as their compatriots Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and more. 

The exhibition was organized by the Vergel Foundation and MondoMostre in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL). It is a joint project between the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. It includes research from the Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is presenting the exhibition alongside the Luces y Sombras: Images of Mexico | Photographs from the Bank of America Collection. 

Together, the fall exhibitions “celebrate these artists’ culture of origin as well as the diverse sources of influence they drew upon in creating their distinctive oeuvres,” Hillings said.

While the museum is commemorating the famed Mexican couple, not everyone is excited about the pair’s legacy. The fall exhibition comes weeks after the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau criticized Kahlo for her support of Marxism, stirring controversy on social media. The ambassador, who was appointed by President Donald Trump and sworn in last month, took to Twitter last week after visiting the late Kahlo’s home, La Casa Azul, in Mexico City.

“I admire her free and bohemian spirit, and she rightly became an icon of Mexico around the whole world. What I do not understand is her obvious passion for Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism. Didn’t she know about the horrors committed in the name of that ideology?” he wrote in Spanish. 

His comments immediately drew backlash from thousands of people.

fridakahlo / Instagram

Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection runs at the North Carolina Museum of Art through January 19, 2020. To recognize the native language and cultural heritage of the artists in the exhibition, gallery information will be provided in both English and Spanish.

Tickets are already available for members but will be sold to nonmembers starting on September 17. 

Read: US Ambassador Insults Mexican Icon Frida Kahlo And Mexicans Clapped Back