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Lesson 1 : Images and Ideas

Symbols Across the Border

Both in his lithographic print and in his sculpture, Luis Jiménez transformed the old Mexican love story into an image reflecting the complex crossing and intermixing of cultures in the southwest. He changed the Aztec lovers into Native Americans and incorporated symbols that cross the border.

The Southwest Pieta lithographic print includes a literal depiction of the Popo and Ixta mountains of the Valley of Mexico.

The overall volume of the fiberglass sculpture suggests the form of a snow-capped mountain.

Ixta's hair streams like water to the base of the mountain.

The nopal or prickly pear cactus is still an important food source south of the border today.

The rattlesnake has religious significance to Native Americans.

Jiménez has also included the Maguey Mescal cactus, or agave, in his print and in his sculpture. The local New Mexico Apaches are called Mescalleros because they eat the bulb at the bottom of the cactus -- the same bulb used in Mexico to make tequila.

The eagle landing on the cactus appears in the Mexican flag. However the eagle of the Southwest Pieta is not the brown-headed eagle of the Mexican flag but the bald-eagle, emblem of the United States.