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Gringos in Mexico(2001)

FEBRUARY 1—JULY 31, 2001
GRINGOS IN MEXICO: American Writers South of the Border

Gringos in Mexico, the new exhibition at Texas State's Southwestern Writers Collection, follows several generations of American writers who have traveled south of the border in search of insight and inspiration.

Highlighting the archives of the Southwestern Writers Collection, Gringos in Mexico displays books, unpublished memoirs, raw manuscripts, journal entries and authors' personal memorabilia, showing the entire range of perceptions American writers have held about Mexico. These writings often reveal as much about the authors and their attitudes as they do about Mexico itself.

Particular emphasis is placed on Texas writers, who share a common history and border with Mexico and have been much more likely to travel through the country. The authors' experiences in Mexico are as varied as the country itself: Katherine Anne Porter wished to travel to Paris and join the literary expatriate community forming there in the 1920s. But the journey was too expensive, so she traveled to Mexico City instead. There she fell in with a group of revolutionary artists including Diego Rivera, and Mexico became the source of her first published fiction. In the 1930s, folklorist J. Frank Dobie traveled through Mexico on a mule, collecting experiences for his most personal book, Tongues of the Monte, while also interviewing survivors of Pancho Villa's army.

In the 1960s, Edwin "Bud" Shrake lived in a cave with the Tarahumara Indians of Chihuahua as he conducted research for his novels. In the 1990s, playwright and actor Sam Shepard went to Mexico to act in a Japanese film. Along the way he collected tales in his journal, eventually turning them into his book Cruising Paradise.

Other notable writers with archives in the Southwestern Writers Collection featured in the exhibit include James Crumley, John Graves, Shelby Hearon, Elithe Hamilton Kirkland, Cormac McCarthy, and Bill Wittliff.

Gringos in Mexico will be on display from February 1 through July 31, 2001. The exhibit was curated by Steve Davis, Assistant Curator of the Southwestern Writers Collection.