In Mesoamerican myths, the origin of maize varies from tales of gods fashioning men out of cornmeal to a god’s transformation into an ant in order to find maize. Each tale outlines allegorical figures’ journeys and roles in the beginning and transformation of humanity with the aid of one of the most pivotal and culturally-significant foods in history: maize.
How has one plant pervaded the history of the Americas and continued to crucially affect an ongoing contemporary populace?
Scholar Matthew Looper suggests that due to the distinct male (the tassel) and female organs (ear and silks) of maize there is an androgynous nature to this plant that reverberates in its cultural reveration among specifically the Maya. However, maize’s mirroring of women’s fecundity and males’ dissemination is pertinent in the cyclical nature of all human reproduction, apart from a particular culture, and in extension exemplifies the essence of humanity’s continuation in the universe. The significance of this plant penetrated the visual, religious, and nutritional history of the America’s and continues to be relevant even in present day as an exemplary case of past conflicting with present.
In Mexico, corn tortillas nearly doubled in price resulting in economic and dietary turmoil among many families in 2007. Due to the fact corn tortillas still remain a staple of the Mexican diet this monetary development affected the general Mexican public and particularly the poor. Marietta Bernstorff created and launched the initial Maize is Our Life exhibition with twenty-eight local women artists in Oaxaca, Mexico to address these current issues and to initiate a visual protest. The success of this collaboration evolved into more exhibitions in Mexico City, Cuba, Vancouver, and San Diego each with an individual curatorial vision but with the same central objective of artists exploring maize’s influence and magnitude in a visual capacity.
In this present exhibition, the artists I have selected offer a gamut of personalized interpretation. From attestant to storyteller, these artists interweave motifs such as sustenance, renewal, and rebirth juxtaposing the natural with the digital. Each piece identifies maize’s cyclical nature and addresses the characteristics of process and sequence in a declaration of environmental awareness. Although varying in iconographic message, this group of artistic voices creates an ongoing dialogue of education and appreciation for the seemingly omnipresent role of maize in our society.
Curator of Maize is Our Life –Austin, TX
"Las mújeres de trenza"
"Las mújeres de trenza"