Women of Júarez: A conversation w/ exhibit curator, Linda Tortolero

Women of Júarez: A conversation w/ exhibit curator, Linda Tortolero

Linda Tortolero curator to the Women of Juarez exhibit.

Women of Júarez: Rastros y Crónicas an art exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art is now open, it reminds us that what happens to one of us can happen to all of us. Ericka Sanchez and Diana Pando have interviewed a few folks, including curators and visitors, about the powerful and reflective exhibit. This is part one of the Women of Juarez exhibit. Women of Júarez: Rastros y Crónicas an art exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art is now open, it remnds us that what happens to one of us can happen to all of us. Ericka Sanchez and Diana Pando have interviewed a few folks, including curators and visitors about the powerful and reflective exhibit.

This is part one of the Women of Júarez exhibit. Since 1993 to the present hundreds of young women and girls have gone missing in the city of Júarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Their raped and mutilated bodies often turn up in the desert, in vacant lots and drainage ditches and their killer(s) never brought to justice.

Broken Dreams / Los sueños rotos, 2009 mixed media on canvas by Rocio Caballero

After viewing the exhibit Diana Pando reached out to one of the curators, Linda Tortolero, to discuss the importance of this exhibit and here is what she had to say:

D: Why do you feel the Women of Júarez is an important story to tell through the arts and what do you want the impact to be for the viewer, the artist and ultimately the women of Júarez?

L: We hope that visitors to the exhibition learn about the femicide in Júarez and the underlying struggles of women in Mexico. We want to motivate the audience to take action and to acknowledge the inequalities that women face around the world. In addition, it’s important to educate visitors that art is a powerful medium by which artists and museums educate the public about important socio-economic issues. Mexico and Mexican and Mexican American artists have a long and proud tradition of reflecting on societal conditions through art. I think that for artists the creation of work is an expression of what moves them, what is important to them and what they want others to learn or know or feel. Undoubtedly, the participating artists felt greatly about the subject and the overarching challenges that women in Juarez and Mexico face. In addition, the pieces in the exhibition demonstrate the thought and reflection that the artists had and carry with them throughout the creative process.

D: How has this exhibit changed you?

L: I think the exhibition has heightened my awareness about the challenges women face especially low-income women in Juarez and Mexico. I am reminded of how fortunate I am and that the death and disappearance of every woman is a separate and unique story of tragedy and that their families and friends deserve justice.

Additionally, the power of art is truly overwhelming and when Dolores and I selected the pieces I recall how moved I was when I saw the proposed pieces. As I walk around the gallery and observe the visitors, I feel the same sensation vicariously and I am reassured when I notice how they react strongly to the pieces with feelings of sadness, shock, enragement and curiosity about the subject.

D: What does this femicide in Júarez tell you about the global escalation of violence against women?

L: Femicide and violence against women is sadly prevalent throughout the world. The negative portrayals of women, the lack of educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for women and the denial of the existing gender inequality have perpetuated the grievous acts of violence against women. I think that many societies and governments have failed to have honest discussions about the challenges that women face, and then also fail to take decisive, meaningful actions and create policies and adopt effective strategies to end gender inequality. Once women are respected as equals and allowed the opportunities to succeed, I believe that violence against women will diminish. Moreover, women will be empowered to fight back and challenge existing systems that work to talk away their rights and subject them to a lesser socio-economic and political status.

D: What can we do to help stop the femicide in Júarez?

L: Education about the issue is key. In order to end violence against women, education about gender inequality and how to prevent violence in families and communities is absolutely necessary. Children and youth must learn at a young age that women and men are equal and understand the damaging effects violence has in the lives of many. Furthermore, Mexico needs a modern, effective judicial system and law enforcement departments at every level of government, free of corruption and with adequate compensation, that can properly investigate and prosecute crimes.

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