In the 1920s and early 1930s, elites in the public and private sectors in Mexico and the United States who had diverse political and economic interests circulated constructs of national identity by way of writings, photographs, fine art, and popular arts. However, there were inconsistencies in how Mexican culture was characterized. Mexican culture was depicted at times as picturesque and folkloric, and at other times as violent and chaotic. Nevertheless, when Mexico and the United States were contrasted, binary oppositions were often invoked; Mexico and the United States were presented as quite different in terms of level of civilization. Two Mexican artists commissioned to paint murals in the United States in the early 1930s, who were clearly aware of these diverse constructs, used their work to challenge them. I propose Tropical America, a mural produced by David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1932 at the Plaza Art Center on Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California, and The Epic of American Civilization, a series of mural panels created by José Clemente Orozco between 1930 and 1932 at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, served as a means to respond to the competing and oftentimes contradictory constructs of national identity. Siqueiros and Orozco invited U.S. audiences to reconsider characteristics of national identity for both Mexico and the United States, the degree to which the two nations were similar and/or different, as well as the complexity of their interrelationship.
|Commitee:||Kleinfelder, Karen, Garcia-Orozco, Antonia|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|Department:||Art, School of|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 82/4(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Art history, Metaphysics, Latin American Studies, American studies, Fine arts, Social studies education, Cultural anthropology|
|Keywords:||Mexico, United States, Tropical America, Epic of American Civilization, 1920s, 1930s, National identity , Violence, Mural paintings, Commissioned artists, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Los Angeles, California, José Clemente Orozco, Hanover, New Hampshire, Interrelationships|
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