Richard Armendariz's oil painting, Tlazolteotl as a Horse, is inspired by the Mexican Indian deity Tlazolteotl, appears in the exhibit and in the book, Icons and Symbols of the Borderland, Art from the US/Mexico Crossroads. Photograph courtesy of Richard Armendariz.

DIANA MOLINA’S FOUND-OBJECT CREATIONS are a product of the borderland. Her home in Anthony sits near the convergence of New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico—an area that has been the center of much sociopolitical debate, but also influences the daily lives of the creatives who live and work there. 

“The border is so often seen and portrayed in a negative light, especially of late,” she says. “At this time, we need a more unifying experience and tools to navigate the terrain of division.” 

Molina curated Icons & Symbols of the Borderland to start that conversation. Featuring 70 pieces in a variety of mediums, the exhibition is on display at the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center through September. “This is one of the most appropriate exhibits we could ever mount,” says Director Dave Morgan. “It’s a celebration of our shared heritage north and south of the border.”  

Molina serves as creative director of the Juntos Art Association, an El Paso–based collective with members from New Mexico and Texas. Several members also have roots in Mexico. Molina drew from the association’s stable to create the traveling exhibition, which debuted at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Centennial Museum and made the rounds in the Lone Star State before landing in Carlsbad. The exhibition’s four sections focus on themes of environment/landscape, infrastructure (like the border wall), foodways, and the sacred and profane (religious iconography and mythology). 

Icons & Symbols of the Borderland Exhibit in Carlsbad, New Mexico MagazineDiana Molina's Corazon Espinado (Thorned Heart) is now on view at the Carlsbad Museum & Arts Center. Photograph courtesy of Diana Molina.

Around 30 artists contributed works, including New Mexico’s Delilah Montoya, Ilana Lapid, Chris Grijalva-Garcia, and Molina herself. Based on the Christian symbol of the Sacred Heart, her paper collage Corazon Espinado (Thorned Heart) is threaded with discarded trash, such as candy wrappers and beer bottle labels, collected near her home. “It’s a juxtaposition of the spiritual and the commercial,” she says. “It walks the line between what nourishes us and what poisons us, what brings us joy and heartache.” 

In Migrant, Mexico City–born and El Paso–based artist Oscar Moya depicts his immigrant journey. His self-portrait gives his body the wings of a monarch butterfly, which he uses to fly over a fence in pursuit of his American dream. All the artworks appear in Molina’s book Icons and Symbols of the Borderland, Art from the US/Mexico Crossroads, released in June 2020. 

“I believe the artists nurture a reflection process. They illuminate what it means to be a person in this very unique place,” Molina says. “I hope the audience will gain a better understanding of the interwoven relationship between these nationalities from the exhibit. We’re on shared ground here.”

Icons & Symbols of the Borderland Exhibit in Carlsbad, New Mexico Magazine
Antonio Castro’s Emigrante is part of a new exhibition at the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center. Photograph courtesy of Antonio Castro.

Icons & Symbols of the  Borderland 

Virtual programs include “Comida y Bebida and the Roots of Southwestern Cuisine,” May 5; “¡Viva Chihuahua! Sustainability in a Desert Landscape,” June 19; and “Borderland Unlocked: Panel Discussion and Film Screening,” August 26.

See the exhibit May 1–September 30 at the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center. 418 W. Fox St.; 575-887-0276.

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