A Conversation on Betsabeé Romero’s Latest Exhibit About Change, Adaptation and Remembrance of Mexican Culture North of the Border.
If it hasn’t been obvious enough in my content to date, I am an arts + culture lover. I’m a culture vulture who enjoys expanding my mind through experiencing exhibits and performances and engaging in thought-provoking dialogues surrounding the bold statements made by artists. (Papers and Socratic style seminars were totes my thing in school. Multiple choice and standardized testing, not so much.) Whether the pieces are performances or visual works, I delight in analyzing the humanity of it all. I especially love when my friends working in local cultural hot spots invite me to stop by and check out what they’re up to when their organizations are presenting something new.
I had the opportunity to visit the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Antonio last week to learn about the current art exhibition in-house by artist Betsabeé Romero. My friend from high school Alexandra Alvarez is the new Communications and Engagement Manager at the Institute, so she invited me over to view the work and have an open dialogue about cultural appropriation. Alex is a fellow fashionista, so we used Romero’s work to engage in a discussion on a topic that we both feel is very relevant to self-expression and the personal style of San Antonians: how to achieve the Mexican-inspired look without mocking the Mexican culture.
Cultural appropriation was a topic I hadn’t yet learned about prior to our conversation. Its definition, according the Cambridge dictionary, is this:
The act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”
To be completely honest, this had never crossed my mind before. One of the things I find most endearing about our city is that those who are not of Mexican descent celebrate the culture with those who are, through our themed Fiestas, wardrobes, home decor, adopted customs, etc. The argument is that this can be seen as a power play between those who don’t belong to the minority culture group and their “oppressors”. I’m not sure how I feel about the argument yet, or if it’s actually a thing in San Antonio, but I always think it’s worth learning something new and making up your own mind about these types of issues.
Romero’s exhibit is fascinating. El Vuelo y Su Semilla / The Flight and its Seed addresses the identity and culture that Mexican immigrants carry with them through their journeys to the United States. The Rivard Report recently published an article that discusses the contemporary exhibit more in-depth, which you can read about here if you are interested. The exhibit closes on August 27th, and is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in nearby Southtown or wandering around Hemisfair Park.
For more information on the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Antonio, or to schedule your visit, call (210) 227-0123. Follow @mexculturesa on Instagram for daily updates and content from the official cultural representation site of the Mexican government in San Antonio.
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Photography by Alexandra Alvarez, Communications and Engagement Manager for the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Antonio.