By David Lopez
Special to the News
San Benito’s highly anticipated Cultural Heritage Museum opened its doors on November 8th with a reception to promote its first exhibit: “La Frontera A Través Del Ojo De Las Mujeres,” or “The Border Through the Eyes of Women.” In partnership with the Mexican Consulate of Brownsville, the exhibit features photography from local artists Pu Chen, Brenda Bazán, and Verónica G. Cárdenas.
“The Mexican Consulate had this neat concept, and I liked the idea. What I think was important was that it link to San Benito,” said Museum Coordinator Luis Contreras. “I wanted to showcase three aspects of landscape from a curator’s standpoint. Each of these artists complemented each other in very different ways, but it worked. This exhibit takes you through a journey with different people who are part of the landscape of the Rio Grande Valley.”
First in the exhibit is Pu Chen’s work, which focuses on the aesthetic of the landscape, zeroing in on nature, patterns, and texture. Museum Coordinator Luis Contreras described her work as “the foundational element of the exhibit.”
Brenda Bazán captured the people of the landscape. Standing at the U.S.-Mexico border, Bazán would ask passersby if she could snap a photo of them. They would quickly pose, take the picture, and walk on. Without knowing what their walk of life is, viewers can make up their own mind about the individuals in the enlarged photographs. “Bazán captures the people that make landscapes come to life,” said Contreras.
Finally, Veronica G. Cardenas documents the migrants that come through the borders. “Cardenas captures an unfortunate aspect, and that is struggle. And also that beauty lies not just in what’s nice but also in strife,” said Contreras. Apart from photography, Cardenas also featured an installation called “Traveling Soles,” which displays shoes she collected at detention centers previously belonging to migrants. Contreras placed the shoes facing north to symbolize the journey northward that brings immigrants to the United States in the search for opportunity.
Despite it hosting an art exhibit, the Cultural Heritage Museum is still in Phase II. To finalize the museum’s internal infrastructure, Museum Coordinator Luis Contreras said the museum is still in need of walls in the middle of the room for viewers to walk through the gallery.
“Even though the museum is not finished, we wanted to have the exhibit to still promote the cultural arts initiative that this plaza will endorse,” said Luis Contreras. “What I want is to just be able to promote culture, history, and the arts off of this square, and that is the long term vision.”
The exhibit will be on display from November 8 through December 15, Wednesday from 1p.m. – 4p.m., and Thursday-Friday 10a.m.-4p.m.