Crossroads Gallery for Contemporary Art presents 'The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present'

Author: Gilberto Cardenas

"The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present"

The Crossroads Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture will begin the fall 2013 semester with an exhibition titled, “The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present.” This exhibition, now on tour in the form of educational panels, images and didactics, was originally organized and toured by the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. The original show examined the missing chapter in Mexican history that highlighted the African contributions to Mexican culture over the past nearly 500 years.

The opening reception is free and open to the public and will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 12). It will include a presentation by Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art, and music by Son Monarcas, a five-member son jarocho ensemble from Chicago. Refreshments will be provided. The exhibition runs until Oct. 25 (Friday).

Mexico’s rich culture has been long recognized in art, archaeology and many other fields. However, a very important, but largely unknown, contribution to Mexico’s history has been that of the Africans, whose forced immigration to Mexico began in the 1500s. This exhibition, originally curated by Sagrario Cruz of the University of Veracruz and the National Museum of Mexican Art’s Visual Arts Director Cesáreo Moreno, focused on the overlooked history of African contributions to Mexican culture from 1519 to the present day. For nearly 500 years, Africans have continued to contribute their artistic, culinary, musical and cultural traditions to Mexican culture.

An evening of poetry will also be held in conjunction with the exhibit. Orlando Ricardo Menes, English professor and director of Notre Dame’s Creative Writing Program, will present work from his award-winning, recently published collection, “Fetish” (University of Nebraska Press, 2013) at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 (Tuesday) at the NDCAC. He will be joined by Notre Dame alumnus and current Sparks Fellow Lauro Vazquez and current Notre Dame student Lynda Letona. This free, public poetry program is presented in collaboration with Letras Latinas, the literary program of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, and inaugurates what will become an annual Hispanic Heritage Month event at Notre Dame’s Center for Arts and Culture.

Co-sponsors include the Institute for Latino Studies, Letras Latinas, the Executive Vice President for Business Affairs and the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame and the Civil Rights Heritage Center of Indiana University South Bend.

A series of public events in association with this exhibit, called “The Africana World,” will be held in South Bend and at Notre Dame. These events will be dedicated to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. This display will amplify themes addressed in the series of events spearheaded by the Notre Dame Community Relations Center to honor King on the 50th anniversary of his visit to South Bend and Notre Dame and of the March on Washington.

One of these events is a civic dialogue discussing issues facing Latinos and African-Americans. A panel discussion will include Marvin Lynn, dean of the School of Education at IUSB, and Marc Rodriguez, director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center. “Latinos and African Americans: Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community?” will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 18 (Wednesday) at the Civil Rights Heritage Center, 1040 W. Washington St., South Bend. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. For more information, contact Rodriguez at 574-307-6135.

Contact: Gilberto Cardenas, 574-631-3819,