To Serve the People: Prints from Mexico’s Taller de Gráfica Popular

On View Now
Jan 21, 2023
- May 15, 2023
2nd Floor: The Gregory D. Ivy and Weatherspoon Guild Galleries

Celia Calderón de la Barca, México, dueño de todos sus recursos (Mexico, master of all its resources), after 1952. Linocut on paper, 11 3/4 x 8 5/8 in. Promised gift to the Weatherspoon Art Museum. © Estate of Celia Calderón de la Barca

“In order to serve the people, art must reflect the social reality of the times.“

In 1937, this belief inspired the foundation of the Taller de Gráfica Popular (the People’s Print Workshop), commonly known as the TGP, in Mexico City. Committed to the progressive idealism of the Mexican Revolution, the artists of the TGP worked together to create prints, posters, flyers, and other works on paper aimed at educating the widest possible audience about the social issues of their day. Fundamental to their artistic production was a democratic group process of collective critiques and negotiated decision making.

That commitment to shared learning and leadership has likewise fueled the production of this exhibition. In fall 2022, students in two UNCG art history courses came together to study the history and output of the TGP, as well as collaboratively curate this installation. The layout of artworks in the galleries, the texts presented alongside them, and a supporting timeline of Mexican history were all generated by the students through a process of individual readings and presentations, group discussions and critiques, multiple small-group working sessions, and many rounds of peer editing.

At the heart of the students’ work was an incredible collection of over one hundred TGP prints brought together by Robert Healy, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Policy at Duke University, and recently promised to the Weatherspoon. This transformative gift to the museum’s collection provides rich material for teaching not only in art history but also across such disciplines as economics, geography, history, and sociology, to name just a few.

Organized by the students of ARH490 and Dr. Emily Stamey, curator and head of exhibitions, with the students of ARH219 and Dr. Nicole Scalissi, assistant professor of art history.

THIS SPRING, an interdisciplinary faculty working group will gather to think about the different ways in which this collection of prints can support learning in their courses. The group includes scholars of anthropology, art, art history, education, history, music, peace and conflict studies, and Spanish. Together with the Weatherspoon curatorial team, they will share insights and resources as they develop lesson plans for teaching with these artworks in the future. This exciting project is organized by HNAC, UNCG’s Humanities Network and Consortium, and made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the Social Science Research Council.