Located less than a mile from Juárez, the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso is a non-collecting institution that serves the Paso del Norte region. In Curating at the Edge, Kate Bonansinga brings to life her experiences as the Rubin’s founding director, giving voice to a curatorial approach that reaches far beyond the limited scope of “border art” or Chicano art. Instead, Bonansinga captures the creative climate of 2004–2011, when contemporary art addressed broad notions of destruction and transformation, irony and subversion, gender and identity, and the impact of location on politics.
The Rubin’s location in the Chihuahuan Desert on the U.S./Mexican border is meaningful and intriguing to many artists, and, consequently, Curating at the Edge describes the multiple artistic perspectives conveyed in the place-based exhibitions Bonansinga oversaw. Exciting mid-career artists featured in this collection of case studies include Margarita Cabrera, Liz Cohen, Marcos Ramírez ERRE, and many others. Recalling her experiences in vivid, first-person scenes, Bonansinga reveals the processes a contemporary art curator undertakes and the challenges she faced by describing a few of the more than sixty exhibitions that she organized during her tenure at the Rubin. She also explores the artists’ working methods and the relationship between their work and their personal and professional histories (some are Mexican citizens, some are U.S. citizens of Mexican descent, and some have ancestral ties to Europe). Timely and illuminating, Curating at the Edge sheds light on the work of the interlocutors who connect artists and their audiences.
Foreword by Lucy Lippard
Introduction: Texas, Mexico, Bhutan, and the Origins of the Rubin
1. Alejandro Almanza Pereda: Just Give Me a Place to Stand
2. Marcos Ramírez ERRE: To Whom It May Concern, War Notes, 2005
3. SIMPARCH: Hydromancy, 2007
4. Adrian Esparza: Unknitting: Challenging Textile Traditions, 2008
5. Nicola Lopez, Noah MacDonald, Julio César Morales, Leo Villareal, and Vargas Suarez UNIVERSAL: Claiming Space: Mexican Americans in U.S. Cities, 2008
6. Liz Cohen: No Room for Baggage, 2008
7. Margarita Cabrera: To Flourish
8. Tania Candiani: Battleground, 2009
9. Tom Leader Studio: Snagged, 2009
10. Ivan Abreu and Marcela Armas: Against the Flow: Independence and Revolution, 2010
11. Enrique Ježik: Lines of Division, 2011
12. Atherton|Keener: Light Lines, 2011
By Kate Bonansinga
Kate Bonansinga is Director of the School of Art in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. She was the first director of the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso.
“Reading much like a novel, the narrative is fascinating. The subject is important as a result of the Rubin’s proximity and affinity to the border, [and] the commissioning of artists to create new works specifically for the Center is intriguing.”
—Benito Huerta, Director and Curator, the Gallery at UTA, University of Texas at Arlington