"El Maiz es Nuestra Vida / Maize is Our Life" is a traveling contemporary art exhibition that focuses on the native maize seeds of Mexico. It is organized by the Oaxaca, Mexico non-profit women's arts organization MAMAZ Collective and uses maize as a symbol to guide the public through a history of the Americas with special attention on how maize became the main source of food for numerous cultures. This all women artist exhibit explores such themes as cultural memory, biodiversity, and genetic modification as well as questions and brings attention to the current danger of extinction of the native maize seed. Through a historical analysis of the development of maize and by recounting its importance in the global economy in the last 20 years, this catalytic exhibition hopes to engage the public in a dialogue as well as to inspire its viewers to take part in social change through such simple acts as choosing food products that are not harmful to their health and on a larger scale are not destructive to the environment that surrounds them or neighboring countries. 

It is our belief that when we as a community understand what is happening globally with our food, and engage with the complexly intertwined political policies in our countries, we can build bonds to help solve the problematic issues surrounding the production of food. As a complement to the exhibit, a workshop titled "Exploring the Importance of Our Cultural Memory of Food” takes place at each hosting venue.

Exhibit Format
MAMAZ as well as the projects we work on are organic; in other words, participants are always changing, and the art produced is in a constant state of metamorphosis. Participating artists work in various mediums in order to help exhibit visitors understand how maize is integrated into our daily lives and into our societies today. With the help of local guest curators who see a need to address the issues we are interested in within their own communities, our collective exhibits become a catalyst for dialogue.

Each exhibition strives to educate and motivate the communities in question, who in our current fast-paced-world might have not only lost touch but are no longer aware in their daily lives of the basic and imperative relationship between people and the land. With this in mind, along with the exhibit, MAMAZ offers a series of quilt workshops that encourage the participation of local communities in the recovery and collection of personal and collective oral food histories. Through these workshops, MAMAZ encourages a dialogue between community members and the exhibit whose focus on the importance of natural/organic food production and consumption calls for a reflection on and a re-evaluation of current local and global food relationships. In other words, participants and viewers alike are challenged to a deeper understanding of how local and global food relationships link our societies.

By inviting guest curators from universities and cultural institutions to participate, we hope to continue expanding this urgent conversation, share new perspectives and interpretations on the subject of maize as well as add the voices of local artists to create a vibrant visual dialogue about maize in today’s world. Therefore art pieces are chosen and exhibited on a location-to-location basis through a dialectical exchanged between local curator's visions, local needs, and MAMAZ Collective artists.