Aztlan: Separating Myth From History

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I have found one overriding theme in exhibition of the Road to Aztlan: Art from a Mythic Homeland. Did Aztlan, the "mythical" homeland of the Mexica, the indigenous people of Mexico and the American Southwest, exist? I believe Aztlan did exist, but to what extent? How much of the myth is derived from historical events, and how much is exaggeration introduced through the oral traditions of the Mexica.

There is a theory among Ethnohistorians (Christensen 1997) that, in essence, states that ancient cultures did not make a distinction between historical fact and myth. Since the cultures' history is embedded within the myths of their oral traditions, one cannot discount the cultures' myths outright, without discounting the historical facts as well. Having said that, the question is not whether the existence of Aztlan is plausible, but the extent of the history that is embedded in the oral traditions of the Mexica.

The exhibit itself was well organized and thought out. The artwork was broken into three distinct time periods: Pre-Columbian art, Colonial art, and Modern art. The variety of artifacts on display was astonishing. There were many gorgeous pieces of pottery, stone statues, oil paintings, jewelry, and photography. The layout of the exhibit was very linear and the building is designed so one would not get lost nor experience the artwork out of order.

My favorite artwork in the exhibit was Border Crossing with Haloes by Luis Jiménez. The painting is a grandiose image; an image that requires one take a few steps away from it in order to fully absorb its magnificence. The medium that Jiménez employed was the oilstick on stretched canvas. Jiménez's technique is what drew me in to this particular piece. The first layer of color was done in a renaissance style, wherein the oils...