On our first NOMAD BART trip for the Peninsula cohort, headed to see the Diego Rivera mural "Pan American Unity" at City College. We are excited to analyze this amazing, layered mural using our blossoming knowledge about our country's history with Mexico and the Mexican American War.
Once we were off the train, we decided not to walk to the mural because of the rain, plus we couldn't get a straight answer about whether or not we'd actually be able to see it today. Instead, we went to the NOMAD Depot to complete our "I Spy" style scavenger hunt for the mural using a projector. On the way, we counted the number of murals we saw in the Mission on our 4 block walk. We counted between 25-50!!
Back at the space, we picked up where we left off in our study of the Mexican-American war and the history of our country's border battle. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and resulted in most of the current US territories from the Mexican Cessation, but the current US border was finalized in 1853 with a final small purchase of land. Many formerly Mexican citizens became US citizens overnight.
We spent a good deal of time analyzing Rivera's mural in the context of the history we learned and the artist's desire to achieve a greater sense of unity between the parts and countries of our continent. His mural portrays how art, innovation, and technology unite all people of North and South America despite their differences. In an interview conducted by Dorothy Puccinelli in 1940, the year he created the mural for the Golden Gate International Expo, he explained his work like this: "My mural which I am painting now--it is about the marriage of the artistic expression of the North and of the South on this continent, that is all. I believe in order to make an American art, a real American art, this will be necessary, this blending of the art of the Indian, the Mexican, the Eskimo, with the kind of urge which makes the machine, the invention in the material side of life, which is also an artistic urge, the same urge primarily but in a different form of expression ... it is about the marriage of the artistic expression of the North and of the South on this continent." He goes on to discuss the ways that the modern society (especially in the US) doesn't value art and true artistic expression because of the pace and complications of every day life. Pre-industrial life was inherently more artistic, which is in theme with some of the work and peoples we have looked at this semester, though this idea is complicated by the thought that technology is also artistic expression.