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Mexican Muralism Exhibition Opens at the University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign

The exhibition "Movement Routes, Mexican Muralism" was inaugurated in the Illini Union Art Gallery at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIC). Comprising a selection from the Manuel Toussaint photographic archive of the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas (IIE) of the UNAM, it is a magnificent display of Mexico's public murals painted by some of the country's most renowned artists, illustrating the most important aspects of the country's history and culture.

In the presence of renowned specialists in Mexican art, faculty directors, UIC students and members of the Latino community in this city, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, John Coleman, welcomed the opening of the exhibition, which he described as "a celebration of the history and art of Mexico with our colleagues at UNAM".

It is worth mentioning that the UIC is one of the most important public universities not only in the state of Illinois but also in the United States, in terms of enrolment and contributions in all fields.

Guillermo Pulido, Director of UNAM Chicago, expressed his gratitude for the ties with the UIC that began when Timothy L. Killeen, President of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, visited UNAM Rector Enrique Graue a year ago, where "he was very impressed by the magnificent murals that embellish the University, especially those in the emblematic Biblioteca Central".

During that meeting, which took place a year ago, important agreements on scientific collaboration between the two universities were signed with the coordinator of International Relations and Affairs at UNAM, Francisco Trigo, which are now being extended to the cultural sphere with this event, said Pulido.

Before the opening of the exhibition, a symposium was held in which Sandra Zetina, Luis Adrián Vargas Santiago y Ricardo Alvarado, researchers from the Institute of Aesthetic Research, took part.

She explained that this project arose during last year's celebration of 100 years of Muralism at UNAM, as an initiative of the IIE and the UNAM's General Direction of Social Communication. He explained the enormous importance of this movement because it was the beginning of cultural emancipation in Mexico. In its early days, he said, the ideas of modern art combined with those of indigenous culture shaped the birth of this new expression.

Vargas Santiago spoke about the Mexican diaspora in the United States, such as the case of Diego Rivera who made murals in California, Detroit and New York, or José Clemente Orozco who painted a fresco in New Hampshire.

Muralism, he said, can be understood as public art and as a social tool. He referred to Chicano Muralism, “which from its origins has been different from the traditional current. This form of expression continues to live in Mexico and is a site for public discussion,” he stated.

The exhibition, curated by Ricardo Alvarado, also from the IIE, was presented with great success at the UNAM Chicago facilities last year and includes historical images from the Institute's collection and others made for the book “UNAM: 100 years of Muralism.” It will be opened at the Illini Union Art Gallery at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this September.

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