Review | Expanding the Spectrum of Mexican Art

TEDx Talks. (2018, July 5). Expanding the Spectrum of Mexican Art [Video]. YouTube.

When you imagine Mexican art, what do you see? Do you think of traditional images like the Virgin of Guadalupe, or do you envision the brightly painted skeletons of La Calavera Catrina marching in a parade for Día de Muertos? Perhaps the stoic self portraits of Frida Kahlo comes to mind, with her infamous unibrow? For years, Mexican art like this has been made popular due to its cultural imagery and its political nature. It has become what many think of as the epitome of Mexican art because it carries with it a loud message about Mexican and immigrant identity politics, iconography, and culture. However, the world of art is broad and ever changing.

Mexican-American artist Esperanza Rosas, better known by her artist pseudonym, Runsy, wants the world to know that this does not, and should not, define Mexican art. In her talk given at TEDx U of I Chicago entitled, Expanding the Spectrum of Mexican Art, Rosas discusses the presumptions surrounding Mexican artists and how they can be reimagined to include a much larger spectrum of styles and inspirations.

Rosas initially became interested in reimagining the Mexican artist when she realized that Mexican art didn’t get very much recognition in the first place, and whatever notice it did have was often a generalized version of it.

“I remember being in college and not hearing anything about Mexican artists aside from that there was white artists that were often recognized that over-shined artists of color and when the teachers would speak about artists of color it was almost always referencing black artists, and many times I didn’t hear about these Mexican artists within the curriculum” (Rosas, 2018, 0:52-1:16).

From there, Rosas set out to change how the world views Mexican art and artists as well as to begin a journey of self-discovery through the development of her own art. Throughout her talk, Rosas questions why it is that Mexican art must speak specifically on culture or politics in order to receive recognition.