Prof Rick López to Discuss the Crafting of Mexico’s National Identity at the Mead Art Museum Nov. 17

November 2, 2010

AMHERST, Mass.— On Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 4:30 p.m., Rick López, associate professor of history and chair of the Mexican Studies Committee of the Conference of Latin American Studies at Amherst College, will discuss his newly released book, Crafting Mexico: Intellectuals, Artisans, and the State After the Revolution at the school’s Mead Art Museum. A book signing and reception will follow.

López, a member of Amherst’s Class of 1993, links local and national histories in Crafting Mexico, which features several objects from the Mead’s Morrow Collection of Mexican folk art. Explaining how thinkers and artists sought to forge a unified cultural nation after Mexico’s revolution 100 years ago, López describes the “ethnicized” interpretation of Mexicanness, which came about through the culture and handicrafts that came to represent Mexico’s modernity and cohesive national identity. “Better than any study I know, Crafting Mexico wrestles with the complex process whereby Mexico transformed itself from a fragmented society, driven by regional loyalties, linguistic and cultural particularism, and caudillo politics, into one of the hemisphere’s most unified nations,” said Gilbert M. Joseph, co-editor of Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico since 1940.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Professor López back to the Mead. For the museum, the publication of Crafting Mexico marks an intellectual homecoming, in which ideas first stirred by the author’s experiences as a museum student monitor and later ripened in his contributions to the museum’s Casa Mañana exhibition catalogue have reached fruition” said Elizabeth Barker, the museum’s director and chief curator. “We’re honored that Professor López has chosen to discuss Crafting Mexico here at the Mead, using original objects from the Morrow collection of Mexican popular arts.” The collection was formed by Dwight W. Morrow (Amherst College Class of 1895) and his wife Elizabeth Cutter (Smith College Class of 1896), who believed that Mexico’s visual arts offered a means to facilitating cross-border understanding, and by extension, political and economic negotiations. It came to Amherst in 1955. López will illustrate how such works have come to unify and define Mexico. 

A complete schedule of the museum’s fall events is posted on the Mead’s Web site: www.amherst.edu/museums/mead/schedule. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 17,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, please visit the museum’s web site, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335. 

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