Frost Art Museum celebrates Mexican photography this summer

From left to right: Daniela Edburg – Jamon, Jamon, Ham, Ham, 2007; Manuel Carrillo, Santa Rosa, Gaunajuato, gelatin silver print, gift of Alvin J. Gilbert.

Two visually-stunning photography exhibitions are on view at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum this summer. Possible Worlds: Photography and Fiction in Mexican Contemporary Art and Becoming Mexico: The Photographs of Manuel Carrillo both celebrate Mexican history and culture, and are bound to speak to the eye gates of each attendee.

Manuel Carrillo – Rope Vendor In Marketplace, gift of Alvin J. Gilbert

The Becoming Mexico exhibition presents the 1950s-documentary photography of Manuel Carrillo, who strove to depict the true essence of Mexican tradition. Carrillo’s street photography includes photos of peasants, workers, children and women in their everyday lives.

His work embraces the idea of Mexicanidad, an influential movement started in the 1920s that looked to identify the essential Mexican identity. Carrillo started working very late in life. Mexico was shifting and changing. As a result, his photography has a sense of nostalgia.

Possible Worlds is a traveling exhibition that incorporates works from nine contemporary Mexican artists. This exhibition is meant to break away from photojournalistic tradition, incorporating a realistic element along with a fictional fantasy component. It is influenced by film, fantasy, literature, science fiction and electronic music.

Jordana Pomeroy, the director of the Frost Art Museum, and Klaudio Rodriguez, the museum’s curator, began working on both exhibitions to engage the political conversation about Mexico currently sweeping the nation. Rodriguez wanted to introduce something that celebrated the country’s culture and people. It was the perfect time to take Becoming Mexico, part of the museum’s permanent art collection, out of the vault.

Daniela Edburg – Atomic Picnic, 2007

Possible Worlds was organized in collaboration with the  Mexican Cultural Institute, Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and curated by art historian Marisol Arguelles. The exhibition, Rodriguez says, offered the opportunity to join forces to offer a more robust presentation to Frost visitors.

“We provide art experiences that transform lives, and we are trying to bring in exhibitions that feature art globally and across time,” Pomeroy says. “These two exhibitions are very complementary of each other.”

In addition, Rodriguez says these exhibitions are the perfect fit for the Frost Art Museum.

“The Frost is about education and scholarly work, presenting things that have substance… Both [exhibitions] are solid, creating good conversation, even after you leave,” he says.

He urges the FIU community to take advantage of this cultural enrichment opportunity.

“My vision is that people stay and commune with the work in some way, ask questions,” he says.

To bring his vision to reality, Rodriguez added interactive components that encourage visitors to linger. The Possible Worlds exhibition has a reading area with bean bags for comfortable seating, and books that have influenced the artists in the exhibition.

Becoming Mexico features a theatre room that screens five different movies (a different one each day) from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Rodriguez hopes this element will encourage visitors to stay.

Pomeroy adds these exhibitions speak directly to the museum’s mission.

“Our mission is to serve the student body. We are free and accessible. We want the world to come to FIU’s students,” she says.

Becoming Mexico will be on display until Sept. 17. Possible Worlds will be at the Frost until Oct. 8. Admission is free and open to the public.