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Ponts de Papier: Art as a bridge between Canada and Mexico

Apr 1, 2020 | Arts

There are bridges that join cities; others that join streets; some of them go above rivers; others are just for the sole purpose of making our life easier. But bridges connect more than places, more than people, they join cultures; and these bridges can be as thin as paper.

This was the premise of 10 artists, 5 Canadian and 5 Mexican, all strangers. With the leadership of Cecilia Sánchez Duarte, head of Museo de Arte Mazatlán, and Manon Coté an artist from Quebec who fell in love with Mazatlan in 2016, this team came together and created the exhibition Ponts de Papier (Puentes de Papel). They gave interpretation to the importance of communication, empathy, and understanding between cultures.

“Art is an opening to another world, it allows us to learn from others. Other people, other life styles, other cultures”, said Coté.

“Art itself is a bridge between cultures, allowing us to talk about social problems and enrich us as human beings because it provides a canvas to find similarities among us”, Sánchez Duarte commented.

It all started in 2018, Coté had her own exhibit at the museum. Both artists had the idea of a collaboration stuck in their minds. It wasn’t until 2019 that they decided to make this a group effort and involve other artists.

The Canadian group, organized by Coté, included Karine Landerman, Marie-Eve Longtin, Hélène Raymond Amyot and Claude Aimée Villeneuve. Meanwhile, the Mexican team, coordinated by Sánchez Duarte, included Cecilia García Morales, Manuel Velásquez Carlock, Marysol Galvan Pelayo and Carlos Zazueta.

Without knowing each other, they exchanged ideas, not only by phone or video, but by also sending each other packets with collages and items that might be symbolic for their work.

“We are united by the need to dialogue what we feel through art, in this case, through engraving and its techniques”, said García Morales, who included in her work some paper textures that were sent to her from the artists in Canada.

The exhibition touches different interpretations of what a bridge can be, from words to emotions, but also as a way to influence social problems, like migration patterns and ecology.

“For this project, I had to read and study things we might have in common between the two countries, and got caught by the idea of the Monarch butterfly”, expressed Longtin, from Quebec.

“If the butterflies are not taken care of in Mexico, then we don’t get to have them in Canada, as they migrate from one country to another. The balance is so delicate”.

The social aspect can be easily noticed on some of the art work related to feminicides; a topic that hurts deeply right now in Mexico, but that is also a big issue in Canada, where autochthonous women are also disappearing.

“This exhibition has many angles, but being from different countries we cannot ignore the migration” , said Sánchez Duarte. “Migration is a human thing that shouldn’t be conditioned by artificial borders, it should bring us together not push us apart”.

Puentes de Papel was officially inaugurated on March 6th, but it had to be postponed by the COVID-19 contingency, as the museum had to close its doors. It is expected to reopen at the end of April, but if that it’s not the case, the exhibition will continue until May 08th and you can watch a preview on Facebook at ArtistasDelMuseodeArte.

No matter what happens in the coming months, this group of artists is already planning to exhibit their work in Quebec in 2021 and at the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana (Hall of Mexican Fine Art), an institute dedicated to the promotion of Mexican contemporary art, since 1949, located in Mexico City.

Written By Olivia Guzón
Olivia Guzón is a journalist. She has worked and collaborated with newspapers like EL NORTE in Monterrey, from Grupo REFORMA, and Noroeste, in Mazatlán. She worked in Televisora del Pacífico (TVP) as a copy writer and producer of a series of mini documentaries for a news site called La Urbe.mx. Since 2017 she teaches at TecMilenio university. Currently, she is also office manager at the ecotourism company Onca Explorations.