Much of the art produced in Mexico during the modern era demonstrates a strong identification with the common men, women, and children of a struggling working class. Artists’ production in the graphic arts especially, in the decades surrounding that nation’s political revolution, addressed the hard labor and deprivation that were daily battles for so many. The expressive possibilities of lithography, etching, and woodcut gave rise to deeply moving depictions of the underclass, and equally forceful statements that confront abuses of power by the privileged ruling class. As campus readers discover this year through Auburn University’s Common Book Program selection, author John Bowe’s Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy, a great divide between economic or social classes can sometimes lead to abhorrent consequences.
Assembled from objects in the museum’s permanent collection, Ganando La Vida (Making a Living: Images of Labor in Modern Mexican Art) presents prints, paintings, and drawings dealing broadly with the theme of labor. Students and others participating in the university-wide common experience may find useful visual triggers for personal reflection on this year’s thought-provoking book. Included in the exhibition are works by Francisco Mora, Isidoro Ocampo, Pablo O’Higgins, José Clemente Orozco, and other notable Mexican artists.