Mexico’s History, in Textbook Art

In this untitled piece by Raúl Anguiano, three Mexican men represent the country’s history as an independent nation. It’s one painting in ‘Pintando: Colors of Education’ at the Lehman College Art Gallery through Sept. 22. (Image courtesy of the artist, via The Riverdale Press)

Paintings made in the early 1960s and late 1980s by Mexican artists, illustrating some of Mexico’s leaders and social movements, are now on display at the Lehman College Art Gallery in the Bronx, one effort in a new collaboration between Lehman and eight of Mexico’s public universities. Last January the college and the universities signed an agreement to expand student and faculty exchange programs and research projects through the City University of New York’s Jaime Lucero Mexican Studies Institute, which is housed at Lehman.

Tiffany Moustakis of The Riverdale Press reports on the exhibit, “Pintando: Colors of Education,” and spoke with the gallery director, Bartholomew Bland. He said that following the signing of the agreement, he was approached about the possibility of an exhibit, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“I think it’s really exciting for us to bring an interesting slice of Mexican culture to the New York area,” Bland said.

“Pintando: Colors of Education” was curated by Laura Bazán from the Mexican National Commission of Public Textbooks. The organization partnered with the Consulate General of Mexico in New York to bring the paintings to Lehman through Sept. 22 after stops in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Bland said that while the paintings did convey civic ideals through textbooks to students in Mexico, they reflect more than that.

“I think it says a tremendous amount about how education is perceived, how we view history, and how artists change,” Bland said. “It’s much less in the service of this kind of sociopolitical narrative and much more about the individual artist expressing themselves.”

Go to The Riverdale Press to read about one painting that “features a woman holding a book in one hand and the Mexican flag in the other,” and how that female figure “symbolizes patriotic wisdom.”

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