When one thinks of Mexico generally, at least locally, one thinks of a popular travel destination like Cancún, or the stunning beaches of Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. However, besides being a tourist haven, Mexico is steeped in so much controversy here in the U.S. We seem to be a nation divided in how we react or appreciate the upcoming twenty-year anniversary of the implementation of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Essentially, NAFTA created a tariff removal of the economic barriers that previously blocked the free trade of goods between the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The discussion surrounding NAFTA seems somewhat of a daily occurrence in my household. We are constantly surrounded by labeling on produce in our supermarkets that is as noticeable as can be: avocados from Mexico, succulent red and yellow bell peppers also grown in Mexico, or hummus dip made in Canada. None of these wonderful delicacies were available to shoppers in the east coast region of the US where I live prior to NAFTA; if it was purchased here, it came only from USA or European suppliers. It has not just affected our food diet, however. The share of artwork, for example, between historic museums in Mexico City and more modern ones located in Los Angeles, California is now easier; art or natural history exhibits are able to more readily travel between Mexico and the United States. The cultural exchange has been ultimately for the better between both nations.
Continuing with this Widget series body of work, I look at how information received as news headlines from online sources can introduce others to the positive aspects of two adjoining nations interacting (using Mexico and the USA as the model) politically, culturally and economically through joint pursuits. Just as my previous jewelry piece discussed on artdoesmatter uses patterning from the Art Nouveau period, this locket’s chased patterning is derived from the history of the decorative arts of Mexico, such as the elaborate patterns found in ceramic or copper/tin tiles. I use chasing and repoussé on metal (a technique common in the history of Mexico’s metalworking genre) to create a beautiful exterior on the locket. Once the locket is opened, it reveals text that is printed on archival paper designed and typeset in Adobe Illustrator. The paper is cut and pressure-fit tightly into the locket’s rear octagonal piece and set behind polished Plexiglas hand-sawed to fit the exact shape of the locket. The entire locket body, hand-fabricated sterling silver oval chain and hollow-constructed silver clasp are oxidized to give this piece a darker, more “age-old” overall look.
My Widget Locket #4: Homage to Mexico is more of a celebratory one-of-a-kind jewelry piece and does not seek to take sides with the NAFTA debate. I wish to merely point out how the two nations have grown to work together for a positive outcome.