Mexican culture, history showcased in various art forms

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By Celena L. Flores

Cathedrals and churches in cities in Mexico show the influence of Spanish and European architecture while rural places of worship reflect indigenous cultures, the chair of visual arts and technology said Sept. 26 at the Catholic Student Center.

Richard Arredondo spoke as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The audience consisted of about 10 students from the Catholic Student Organization and art appreciation classes.

The speech included Mexican history along with art appreciation.

He showed the main differences in the city cathedrals and the small churches outside cities.

Within the large cities of Mexico, there was a pure influence of Spain while in small towns, there was great influence of the indigenous or mestizo beliefs and practices.

A mestizo is a person of mixed European and indigenous ancestry.

Most of the large cathedrals or churches in the cities have Romanesque and Baroque features. The smaller churches of small towns were more humble with an emphasis on the Virgin Mary, he said.

Arredondo’s speech went back to Hernan Cortes landing in Mexico, the conquering of the indigenous tribes and the start of the missionaries.

Arredondo said it wasn’t until the sighting of the Lady of Guadalupe that Christianity boomed with the indigenous people of Mexico.

On Dec. 9, 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City.

“When the Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, churches were beginning to be built out in the country and in small towns,” Arredondo said.
By Celena L. Flores
Pyramids were knocked down to create cathedrals in cities. These cathedrals had a large influence of European architecture of the Baroque and Roman eras.

“What many people don’t know is that Mexico has a large and rich culture along with history. Mexico already had universities by the time of Plymouth Rock,” Arredondo said.

Arredondo said that even San Antonio has a few churches that have art similar to those in churches in Mexico, like San Fernando Cathedral, Little Flower and the missions.

After the speech, students were invited into the dining room for a free lunch at the center.

Arredondo said in an interview after the speech, “I think that topics like this are very important to South Texas because most of the Mexican-American people living here are either recent immigrants or third- and fourth-generation Mexican-Americans. This is a way to revitalize their culture.”

Although this college offers a Mexican-American literature class, there is no Mexican-American art class.

“I would like to have a Mexican art class, but we don’t really have the funding nor do we have enough faculty to teach the class,” Arredondo said.

For more information, stop by Arredondo’s office in Room 222C of the visual arts center or call 733-2899.

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