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Fronteras: The McNay Art Museum’s first curator of Latinx art talks ‘renaissance’ of Latino artists and art

Chicano art, which was once stereotyped as “graffiti,” is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. It is on display at some of the most prestigious galleries across the world.

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera paved the way for Texas artists like Jesse Treviño in San Antonio, Luis Jimenez in El Paso, and countless others.

A new position at San Antonio’s McNay Art Museum allows for a deeper dive into Latino artwork that touches on themes of the border, the diaspora, and cultural identity.

It’s funded by the Leadership in Art Museums initiative to help increase racial equity in museum leadership.

Mia Lopez is the McNay’s first curator of Latinx art.

Lopez said she noticed a lack in Latino art in galleries while studying art history at Rice University.

“It was really obvious that there were not Latinos that had exhibitions that were included in these collections,” she said. “I was looking for evidence of exhibitions — evidence of artists and collections — and finding time and time again that it just didn’t exist.”

TPR’s Norma Martinez interviewed Lopez inside of the Studio at the McNay — a space that highlights the work of Texas artist Guadalupe Hernandez.

Lopez said Hernandez’s work — including a display of papel picado — is a perfect fit for the museum.

“[It] really underscores the idea of belonging,” she said. “That Guadalupe, as an artist, belongs here in this museum, that his cultural heritage is represented already in our collection.”

Hernandez hosts an Open Studio event on Dec. 3 for participants to make their own papel picado.

Click here to register.

Tune in to the next episode as Mia Lopez takes Fronteras on a walkthrough of some of the museum’s Latinx art collection and a peek behind the scenes.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1