Mundos de Mestizaje depicts more than 3,000 years of Hispanic history in the broadest sense, from Europe to Mesoamerica and into the American Southwest, illustrating the complexities and diversity of the Hispanic experience. The fresco is embedded with images that explore the historical connections among arts, sciences, language, migration and conflict along with a celebration of the creative cross-pollination of the cultural exchange of ideas.
Born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, Frederico Vigil grew up inspired by the rich history that has become the trademark of his art. He spent close to a decade on this monumental, 4,000 square foot work. Vigil first became involved with the ancient art of fresco during a visit and internship in the 1970s with Lucienne Bloch and Stephen Pope Dimitroff, who were apprentices to Diego Rivera
A group of respected New Mexico scholars were convened to create a list of significant themes and images which could represent Hispanic cultural history spanning the Iberian, Spanish, Mesoamerican and New Mexico heritage. Vigil then researched and studied the content in order to build and weave his own visual interpretation of the historical content and cultural layering which he eventually named Mundos de Mestizaje.
Christopher Columbus' legacy is mixed and controversial. Some historians credit him for opening up the Americas for European colonization with the first of his four expeditions. There is, however, heated debate regarding the ongoing annual celebrations of Columbus’ accomplishments in various countries. His severe rule resulted in the depopulation of the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic); the exploitation and mistreatment of native peoples through forced labor, slavery, and deliberate mutilation; and the destruction of indigenous cultures through forced conversion to Catholicism.
The philosophy behind Manifest Destiny was verbalized by journalist John Louis O’Sullivan, who stated that the U.S. possessed a divine right to expand throughout North America in order to sustain the country’s growth and acquire needed resources. This philosophy is evident in the westward expansion of the United States, including but not limited to the annexation of Texas and Oregon, the justification of the Mexican-American War, and the expansion of the railroad “from sea to shining sea.”
The Matachines dance is a ritual drama performed in Native American and Hispanic communities along the upper Rio Grande valley of New Mexico and in the greater Southwest. It is characterized by two rows of masked male dancers wearing mitre-like hats (cupiles) with long, multicolored ribbons down the back.
Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent) is considered one of the most important deities of the pre-Hispanic era. Known as the creator of humanity and the god of wind, he appears as early as the Teotihuacán civilization as an earth and water deity, often associated with the rain god, Tlaloc. After Nahua-speaking tribes migrated from the north he became the God of the Morning and the Evening Star, seen as a symbol of death and resurrection. For the Aztecs, he was the patron of priests and the inventor of the calendar.
This Spanish colonial road was also called the “Royal Road” or the “King’s Highway.” For 300 years it was the only thoroughfare to the rest of the empire for the inhabitants of New Mexico. It is the oldest highway running north and south, and at one time was the longest road in North America. Some of the route incorporated existing trading trails. It was used by Spanish conquistadores and colonizers, and in 1598 Juan de Oñate’s expedition extended the length of the road up to San Juan Pueblo. Although the route lost its importance with the arrival of the railroad in 1885, it is still considered an integral part of U.S., Native American, Mexican, and Spanish history, creating a cultural exchange that changed the region forever.