There were two historical questions discussed in class today. The first question was: What can Mexican murals tell us about the vision of Mexican nationalism that emerges after the revolution? The second question was: What vision of Mexico, and Mexican history, do these artworks promote? The class began with a discussion from Dr. Holt on the recent Carnival celebrations in Brazil, which are a series of Christian festivities leading up to Lent. Videos of Carnival parades and festivities were shown in class to demonstrate how celebrations were held and highlight how forms of social protest were implemented into the parades.
Afterward, the class discussion transitioned toward a conversation on Mexican forms of artwork that developed after the Mexican Revolution. Dr. Holt presented several works from José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Diego Rivera, three of the most prominent figures in Mexican muralism. A significant theme in the art of Mexican muralists that was discussed was the importance of Mexico’s indigenous history and population. Additionally, another important theme covered in the murals was the oppression imposed by the ruling classes throughout Mexican history
One important historical piece that was discussed in class was Jose Clemente Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilization. This piece is related to the main point of that day’s discussion because it features Emiliano Zapata, a nationalist figure, in the middle of the artwork, which can symbolize the emphasis on indigenous rights and indigenous pride following the Mexican Revolution. Additionally, the artwork is related to the main point of the class discussion because it features government officials greedy for money and violent military officers, which are figures meant to depict the history of Mexico.
Fresco: a painting done rapidly in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling, so that the colors penetrate the plaster and become fixed as it dries.
Historical Memory: the way by which groups of people create and then identify with specific narratives about historical periods or events.
1917 Mexican Constitution: The current constitution of Mexico, which was drafted during the Mexican Revolution. It outlines provisions on workers’ rights, land reform, etc.
PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional): The Institutional Revolutionary Party is a Mexican political party founded in 1929 that held uninterrupted power in the country for 71 years from 1929 to 2000. The PNR was founded in 1929 by Plutarco Elías Calles, a prominent Mexican leader and significant figure of the Mexican Revolution.
1. How did Mexican muralists emphasize the importance of indigenous people and their history through art?
2. In what ways did Mexican muralists depict oppression in their art?
3. How did the art created by Mexican muralists obtain appeal beyond Mexico?