Brittany Watson

Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018

Art exhibit ‘Origins’ aims to break down walls near Arizona-Mexico border

SAN LUIS – Sculpted calaveras – skulls – are perched alongside a painting of Frida Khalo, which hangs next to several rocks used by artists as improvised canvases. They’re all part of an exhibit that recently opened to the public at the San Luis Library, located on the border with Mexico about 25 miles south of Yuma.

Organizers said the art helps to unite two cities that, although separated by walls and fences, share a common history and culture.

“This exhibit is about providing opportunities for artists in our region, artists of all levels, and bringing them together from Yuma, from San Luis, from across the border,” said Julie Floss, professor of fine arts at Arizona Western College. “Providing them the opportunity to share their art with the community.”

This is the fifth year the library has hosted its annual “Origins” exhibition; this year’s theme is “Art Without Borders.” It’s a part of a monthlong program celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which is Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Artists, representing a range of media, were selected from a pool of public submissions.

The “Origins” exhibit at the San Luis Library includes this Mexican skull painted on a flat rock. The annual exhibit is in its fifth year. (Photo by Brittany Watson/Cronkite News)

It’s also the first year the library is collaborating with Mexican organizations to connect artists from across the border, including partnerships with Arizona Western College, Museo Regional de San Luis Rio Colorado and the Mexican Consulate. Organizers said the event is dedicated to promoting visual artists from both sides of the border, while also building bridges between artists and the community.

Melissa Huerta is the curator and director of the Museo Regional in Mexico.

“Being that bridge between the talent and the institution is like, if you’re not an artist, you feel as if you’re part of that exhibition and the art, even if you don’t have a piece,” she said.

Ariana Villegas, one of the participating artists, said she hopes the event will help educate more people about Mexican culture and traditions while giving them something to enjoy.

“There’s no exact way of art. You can make your own art the way you want. It can make sense, it could be realistic. It could be abstract – anything,” Villegas said.

Huerta agreed that art is truly limitless, in this case, uniting these two towns through it.

“There are no boundaries to what these artists can do.”

– Video by Brittany Watson

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