Current Temporary Exhibits
Walking with the Ancestors:
From Mesoamerica to the Southwest
Extended through June 9, 2013
Guest Curator, Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva
Chair of the History Department, University of Texas, El Paso
Programs in conjunction with this exhibit:
• Sat, April 13, 2:00 pm – Exhibit Tour
Please see our Event Calendar
Dr. Leyva’s curatorial statement about the exhibit follows.
Walking with the Ancestors: From Mesoamerica to the Southwest is an exhibit about the connections among peoples across time and space. Although the movement of people shaped the El Paso del Norte region of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez for thousands of years, we often think of migration as a relatively new development. Yet, we are surrounded by traces of much, much older movements of peoples and cultures moving from south to north, from what is now Mexico to what is now the Southwestern United States.
My ancestors believed that without movement there is no life. The heart beats, moving our blood through our bodies. The earth rotates around the sun and the moon circles the earth. The seasons move from the new life of springtime to the resting time of winter only to begin a new cycle of growth again. Animals migrate. And people move. The history of humanity is a story of movement, of migration from one place to another for a season or for generations. Walking with the Ancestors connects us to each other because it asks us to remember what we share. At a time when immigration is one of the most contested and emotional issues in our nation, this exhibit calls on us to stop for a moment and think about the ancient history of movements of people and culture.
Utilizing pottery, photographs, stories and other artifacts, the exhibit draws on themes of corn, rain, parrots, the peyote cactus and the rabbit in the moon to trace the movement of life: the movement of the ancestors.
The exhibit includes a Día de los Muertos altar illustrating the Aztec journey to Mictlan, which is the place many people were believed to go after death. The nine levels of Mictlan are portrayed on the altar.
Olin, Aztec glyph from
Tlaloc from Codex Rios
Día de los Muertos altar
Walking with the Ancestors: From Mesoamerica to the Southwest was created in collaboration with the Department of History at the University of Texas at El Paso and Museo Urbano, a public history project of UTEP.
Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva is a Chicana historian and writer who was born and raised on the border. She is currently chair of the Department of History at University of Texas El Paso and an associate professor. She has spent her life listening to and now documenting the lives people who live on la frontera. She specializes in border history, public history, and Chicana history. She has directed various public history projects focusing on the US-Mexico border over the past decade. Most recently, she served as guest curator for Healing Hands, Healing Ways: Traditional Medicine in the Borderlands and as Project Developer for El Paso: The Other Side of the Mexican Revolution, a groundbreaking museum exhibit on El Paso's role in the Revolution. She serves as Co-director of Museo Urbano, an indoor-outdoor museum that highlights the untold histories of Mexican Americans and of South El Paso, especially el Segundo Barrio.
Recent Acquisition – Bear Claw Necklace
SILVER, TURQUOISE, AND BEAR CLAW NECKLACE
Milton Tsosie, Navajo
Bear Claw Necklace
Navajo silversmithing is one of the oldest craft industries in the Southwest. It is believed they adopted the practice from Spaniards in the 1700s. Over the generations the Navajo have developed a set of skills, design, and talent that is all their own. Navajo silver work is characterized by ornate designs rather than as a setting for precious stones.
Donated to the El Paso Museum of Archaeology by John Green