Collages echoing a style of art born in an early 20th century Mexican cultural renaissance were created last spring by visualization students at Texas A&M in a set design collaboration with their counterparts in the university’s performance studies program.
The students engaged in a visual exploration, using collage to research the historical context of a play under development, "Ana's Sacrament," by Susan Gordone.
In 1906, Mexican painter and writer Gerardo Murillo, who signed his pieces “Dr. Atl,” published a manifesto calling for Mexican artists to develop a nationalistic style of art that drew upon indigenous cultures for inspiration.
Subsequent mural paintings by Mexican artists including Jose Orozco and Frida Kahlo portrayed ordinary people as working class heroes in monumental art for the first time in art history, said famed painter Diego Rivera.
Led by Robert Schiffhauer, associate professor of architecture, students created collages in the tradition of the Mexican muralists inspired by Dr. Atl’s manifesto, which include images of Mexican workers, artists, philosophers and revolutionaries.
“In the collages we see visualization students become another generation of storytellers, building on the great muralists who devoted their lives to Dr. Atl’s vision,” said Schiffhauer.
The collages were part of a collaboration with performance studies students on the work in progress by Susan Gordone, wife of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Texas A&M professor Charles Gordone. Ana, the main character in Gordone's play, is the daughter of a poet from the Mexican renaissance era, in the process of discovering her mother and her own heritage while traveling in Mexico.
In addition to creating collages in the style of Mexican muralism, Schiffhauer’s students designed sets and sketched actors posed in pivotal scenes from Gordone's play.