January 21, 2002
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present Casa Mañana: The Morrow Collection of Mexican Popular Arts, from Friday, Feb. 8, until Sunday, April 21. This exhibition celebrates the collection of Mexican folk art assembled by Dwight W. Morrow (Amherst College Class of 1895) and his wife Elizabeth Cutter (Smith College Class of 1896) during Morrow’s tenure as the United States Ambassador to Mexico in the late 1920s. Highlights include rare lacquered trays and boxes from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Michoacán, ceramics from Puebla, Oaxaca, Jalisco and Guanajuato, and textiles from Mexico, Zacatecas and Coahuila.
The Mead Art Museum’s Morrow Collection of Mexican folk art is one of the most important in the United States. The Morrows, among the vanguard of early collectors of Mexican folk art, purchased most of these objects for Casa Mañana, their weekend residence in the resort town of Cuernavaca. Morrow also commissioned a mural by Mexico’s leading artist Diego Rivera. The Morrows believed that Mexico’s visual arts would complement political and economic negotiations and facilitate greater understanding across the border. More than a retreat, Casa Mañana was a sympathetic gesture of goodwill and a visual declaration of allegiance to the indigenista rhetoric of the post-Revolutionary era, which placed Mexican culture at the heart of national identity. In 1955 the Morrow family gave a selection of 159 pieces to Amherst College.
This exhibition, the first major display of the Morrow Collection since the 1930s, places major works in varied contexts—the market, the tourist shop, the home and the museum—that have long determined how Mexico’s popular arts are understood. The installation includes approximately 75 of the most important and diverse works of folk art from the Morrow Collection. It also draws on the wealth of archival material from both the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections and the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College. In addition, the Mead Art Museum has assembled a collection of vintage photographs of Mexico by Manuel and Lola Álvarez Bravo, Edward Weston and Hugo Brehme, among others, that illustrate daily life and the culture of the period. Together, these materials offer a rich resource that documents the transformation of functional, everyday objects into objects that carry both aesthetic and national significance.
A fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue was published by the University of New Mexico Press. The catalogue includes an introduction by Ilán Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, and essays by James Oles, assistant professor of art history at Wellesley College; Susan Danly, independent curator and formerly curator of American art at the Mead; Rick López, (Amherst College Class of 1993) doctoral candidate in history at Yale University and recent Copeland Fellow at Amherst College; and Anthony W. Lee, associate professor of art history at Mount Holyoke College.
On Friday, Feb. 8 at 4:30 p.m., the Mead will mark the opening of the exhibition with a lecture by exhibition curator Oles, titled “From Picadilly to Cuernavaca: A Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Popular Arts” in Stirn Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Museum. Stirn will host a premiere screening of the director’s cut of Robert Young’s Alambrista (1963) that evening at 7:30. Afterward, Mr. Young and Professor Stavans will discuss the film. Professor Oles will offer a special tour of the exhibition on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 2:00 p.m. Additional related programs include a lecture by Professor Lee, and a Mexican-American film series beginning on Feb. 11 with Traffic (2000).
This exhibition, and its accompanying catalogue, were funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Fideicomiso U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture and the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund.
The Mead Art Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursday evenings until 9:00 p.m. Closed Mondays and Holidays. More information can be obtained on the Museum’s Website, or by calling the Mead Art Museum at (413) 542-2335.