creando raices

creating rhizomes

Rhizomes: Mexican American Art Since 1848 is a multi-component ecosystem that will resolve the misunderstandings and invisibility of visual art by Mexican American artists, a dispossessed community. The visual graphic below illustrates the components. Scroll down to learn more about each component of Rhizomes: Mexican American Art Since 1848. 

Components of the ecosystem

Online, open-source, post-custodial portal 

Our portal, Mexican American Art Since 1848, compiles digital information from libraries, archives, and museums. The post-custodial design refrains from the colonial legacy of knowledge and information extraction; rather it links collections and makes harvested information searchable from a single location. The portal has multiple phases. Eventually, we will collaborate with private stewards and artists to make visual art searchable in the digital realm. 

First iteration

The open-source portal harvests content from existing state and national digital compilers—Calisphere, The Portal to Texas History, the Smithsonian Collections Search Center , and the Digital Public Library of America—and a repository of documents digitized and made accessible by the International Center for Art of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. With generous support from the American Council of Learned Societies, we launch the first iteration of the portal in summer 2021.

Second iteration

Mexican American Art Since 1848 shares newly digitized art and related materials from partner museums, such as the National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago), the National Hispanic Cultural Center (Albuquerque), and Mexic-Arte Museum (Austin).

Nationally and historically comprehensive book series

The book series Adjacent Imaginaries: Mexican American Art Since 1848 will be a multi-volume, full-color digital edition and physical text. Nationally, historically, and aesthetically comprehensive in its analysis, the book series will examine artists’ lives and works, artist collectives, exhibitions, trends in art criticism, private and public collections, and contributions of arts organizations, diversifying American art history, and other fields. The series privileges ethnic and feminist studies methods and theoretical frameworks. The initiative fosters new scholarship and community engagement. We plan to commission special issues in academic journals, produce symposia, and offer fellowships for graduate students and post-doctoral associates focused on Mexican American art since 1848. 

K-16 Curricula and Community Engagement

Rhizomes supports crowd-sourced knowledge mobilization and production, such as user-created virtual exhibitions, timelines, and K-16 curricula and lesson plans. By displaying user content, Rhizomes supports perspectives outside of higher education, including those of bilingual students and teachers, Chicana/o/x artists, and Mexican-heritage communities. Rhizomes coordinates, trains, and supports teams at its institutional nodes who will co-create and share curricula informed by the portal, Mexican American Art Since 1848. A Curricula for High school and other Instructors with Rhizomes Assistance (ACHIRA) is a planned site that supports sharing “Ready-to-Teach” lesson plans and network formation.

Institutional Map

With generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, Rhizomes Initiative collaborated with RomoGIS Enterprises to develop the Rhizomes Institutional Map, which uses ArcGIS to allow users to see our nodes of engagement with institutions where Mexican American art is housed: libraries, archives, museums, and other collections. 

Community Engagement And impact

Our partner museums and the public

We prioritize equitable relationships, trust, reciprocity, redistribution, transparency, and accountability with stakeholder institutions and community partners from planning through implementation. The Rhizomes Initiative responds to the historically fraught relationships between Mexican American communities and scholars who have benefited from information but not shared research findings. 

Scholars, curators, and students

Mexican American Art Since 1848 allows for research on a scale once thought impossible for scholars, curators, and students seeking cross-disciplinary, geographic, historical, and intersectional understanding of Mexican American arts, particularly for regions, time periods, and media overlooked by online compilers. The portal supports and advances new scholarship and artistic innovations and traditions of art-making not considered by mainstream American art history. The portal employs culturally informed descriptors to enhance discovery of Mexican American art and related content.


The portal, Mexican American Art Since 1848, is an important tool for educators who are increasingly required to teach ethnic studies in K-12 public schools and colleges but with few resources. We seek funding for A Curricula for High school and other Instructors with Rhizomes Assistance (ACHIRA), a site that will serve as the platform for sharing resources, including “ready-to-teach” curricula. ACHIRA is named for the edible rhizome native to Mexico and grown throughout the Americas that blooms into colorful flowers. It is an apt metaphor because it nourishes K-12 educators and college teachers through information sharing and networking, mitigating the relative isolation faced by educators in ethnic studies.