Guest Writer: Dr. Todd Giles, Associate Professor of English and WFMA Advisory Board member
Luis Jiménez (1940-2006), primarily known for his large Hispanic-themed polychromed fiberglass sculptures, studied art and architecture at UT, El Paso in the early 1960s. Like many postmodern artists, Jiménez’s public sculptures intentionally combine high and pop culture. What distinguishes him from many sculptors of his generation is that rather than embrace a high-sheen corporate minimalist aesthetic of steel and bronze, Jiménez’s work, which acknowledges and embraces his cultural hybridity, boldly incites discussion by shedding light on the white masculinist myth of the American West. For example, Border Crossing, a 10 ½ foot tall totem-like fiberglass sculpture now at the Blanton Museum of Art at UT Austin, pays homage to his grandparents’ illegal crossing of the Mexican/US border a century ago, as well as hints at the determination of emigrants from all cultures who strike out for a better life for themselves and their families—a revisionist Manifest Destiny story, if you will.
The WFMA’s Collectors Circle donated this lithograph to the Museum in 2012. Titled Border Crossing, it depicts the same couple discussed above. Both the 1987 sculpture and lithograph, which might be a study for the sculpture itself, show a heroic, muscular, somewhat stylized Hispanic man carrying a blanket-wrapped woman piggyback as she conceals a baby against her chest. In discussing the sculpture, Jiménez said, “I had wanted to make a piece that was dealing with the issue of the illegal alien. People talked about aliens as if they landed from outer space, as if they weren’t really people. I wanted to put a face on them; I wanted to humanize them.” Jiménez’s use of larger-than-life figures such as these border-crossers, confronts us with the struggle, determination, and movement inherent in these wanderers; yet we also sense that they are somehow trapped in time, as if their struggles, while transitory, are also universal in scope.
The Collectors Circle, which was established in 2010 at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art, is an exciting way to learn about fine art collecting, while also contributing to the culture of our region by helping build upon the Museum’s already impressive collection of American works on paper. To date, members of the Collectors Circle have donated nearly $60,000, enabling the addition of over fifty important artworks to the Museum’s permanent holdings.
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